Tag Archives: death

Death, Family, and Dealing With Stigma

Sorry that I have been MIA recently. I have been very busy with work. I actually up for a promotion so hopefully that works out. I really, truly enjoy wear I work and who I work with. I have not ever enjoyed a job this much.
The main reason that I have been absent as of late is due to the death of my Grandfather. He was very sick, as I had mentioned in my previous post, so we knew that his time with us was comming to a close. That doesn’t make his death any easier. It stings extra hard because I was going to say goodbye to him the afternoon that he died after I had finished babysitting my niece, but he passed that morning.
I was not at all prepared for how upset my six year old son was going to be. When he got home from school that day I told him the news. Later that night I went into is room where he was crying. He doesn’t really understand death, but he knows that he will miss his Great-Grandfather. When I explained the concept of the viewing, that he could say “Goodbye” and that while Grandad couldn’t respond, he could see and hear us, Aidan said, “Oh, he’s in a hot air balloon or something?” Something like that buddy.
For the viewing and church funeral (the burial hasn’t happened yet as it takes Arlington National Cemetary about a month to scheduale a burial) a good deal of family flew in from California, Denver, New Jersey, Alabama, etc. The same family that has shunned me for years, has refused to speak or look at me to be perfectly honest was now in the same room, restaurant. Some of them would awkwardly say hello and ask about the kids. Let me be clear that this is not all of my family, it is just some and they are both in state and out of state.
If looks could kill… Listen, I know that I fucked up a time or two when I was in my active addiction. I have apologized however. These are people who pride themselves on their Catholic upbringing, yet look at me and my husband, my sister and her boyfriend like we are parasites.
They are like a lot of people who feel that they are above anyone who has struggled with addiction not realizing how easy it is to get sucked in. People also fail to understand that addiction forever changes the chemical makeup of your brain making relapse so easy. We do not want to relapse anymore than a person with cancer wants their disease to come back, it just does.
Likewise, we are not stupid, lazy, bad people. We try to overcome our disease, we try to make amends for our past transgressions. We try to move on, but often it is the judgement of others that holds us back. In fact, a great deal of the time, people refuse to seek help for their addiction because they know who they will be treated and looked at for the rest of their life once people know the truth about them.
I just don’t understand why even people who know that it is wrong to discriminate against others due to race or religion or gender feel like it is perfectly acceptable to look down upon someone who has the disease of addiction. We are people too. Honestly people have gone through and beaten addiction are some of the kindest, strongest, smartest, and most compassionate people out there. We have fought tooth and nail to achieve and to maintain our sobriety. We have spit on and discriminated against. We have seen people and their lowest and have worked through the depths of our despair.

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Death and Getting the Most Out of Life

Yesterday, my husband and I went to visit my Grandfather in the hospital. He is 92 and he is most likely dying. He has been in and out of the hospital a lot this year. Usually after a day or two he is back at his assisted living home. The previous time, it was determined that he was not well enough to go back to Harmony Hall (the assisted living) and had to move to Lorien (a near by nursing home).
When he was in the hospital that time, he came in at 165 pounds. His doctor was incredibly worried about his weight and stressed how important it was that he not loose any more weig. He is at 130 now, normal for him is about 210. Appatently no food is getting into his stomach, it is all getting into his lungs. He is beginning to refuse treatment, and it seems inevitable that the end is near for him.
As he lay in his hospital bed asleep yesterday, I was struck by how much he reminded me of my father. My grandfather, who is my mother’s father, is a mere she’ll of his former self, just as my father was before he died. Of course one glaring difference is that my granddad is 92 while my dad was 42.
I am trying to clebrate his life instead of only mourning his death. When I think back on his remarkable life, I am struck by just how much a person can accomplish in a lifetime. He served in WWII as a marine where he received, not one but two Purple Hearts. He moved on to the CIA where he worked directly under J. Edgar Hoover and the first George Bush. Hell, he even bought a car from George Bush and had to go back over to their house to get Barbra to sign the title over because George forgot to. He was interviewed to have his life story documented for the Library of Congress. Him and my grandmother (who was a premier cryptologist in WWII) raised 7 kids (an eighth died at the age of six months) while traveling all around the world, living in Germany, Japan, France, Spain and other places.
The stories he has, my mother has, my aunts and uncles have, my grandmother had from living all over the world could create the most extravagant movie. His life is truly inspiring.
I look at all that he has done, and I realize how little I have done. I have stressed and spoken before of how much I fear death and how I feel like I am starting my life so very late. I ruined so much potential I have, and now at 30 I am starting fresh. I am just now, finally doing something in a field that I am passionate about. I am at a base position, but I am good at it and I like it. I get compliments. I hope that I can use this has a jumping point to launch my career in makeup and cosmetics. To me, makeup is more than a fun little pastime or accessory- it is my passion.
As I sit here with tears welling up in my eyes thinking of losing my beloved Granddad, I realize how profoundly honored I am to have even met such a remarkable and one in a trillion man. He has taught me so very much. Watching him take care of my grandmother after she had a stroke that paralyzed half of her body, and seeing how devoted he was to her up until her death showed me what true love really is.
Grandad, I am praying everyday that you are able to pull through this as you have done every other time, but if not, I can honestly say that anyone who was ever able to meet you was blessed. I love you and will miss you terribly.

Fears

Last year I wrote about regrets, about how as human beings, but especially as active and recovering addicts, we must learn to live with regrets. This post is about learning to live with fears and overcoming fears.
In some ways, I fear almost nothing. Except for snakes- they scare the living shit out of me. As far as other people go, I don’t really fear people too much. Humans are going to do what they are going to do, and there is no sense in me fretting over it. Example, I am not particularly afraid of guns. I have had friends murdered before, and I have been robbed at gun point before. My husband, sister and good friend were saved by the grace of God, when a revolver pointed st point blank range jammed twice (and revolvers DO NOT jam). So, I know very well what guns can do, and I do feel like there should be tighter restrictions upon getting guns. The thing is though, nine times out of ten, when someone pulls a gun on you they have it pre-determined whether they are going to just use it to scare you, or kill you. Freaking the fuck out most certainly will not help you out, in fact, it may farther the likelihood that the person will pull the trigger.
Likewise, I feel like when I watch movies and they put a gun to someone’s head and force them to do shit like dig their own grave and jump in it, no fucking way – just shoot me. I feel like free will may be the last thing that I would be possessing in that situation, so just kill me.
Oddly however, I am really quite afraid of death. It is actually something that I think about on almost a daily basis. I hope that when It is my time, I am at peace with the thought of death and am ready to go. I am religious and fully believe in heaven and hell. I fear not being a good enough person to make it to heaven. I try every day to be a good person, but perhaps my sins of the past are to much to overcome. I hope not.
Ever since I turned 30 in May, I have had like a major mid-life (quarter-life?) crisis. I feel as though I have accomplished nothing in my life thus far. I am just no getting started towards a career that I love. I am smart, I had a full scholarship at one of the top schools in the country, and I fucked it all up. Add my criminal record to all that, and I screwed a lot up in my life. I am saving up to go to school to get my makeup artistry certification later this year.
I did everything ass backwards. Most people that I graduated from high school with are just now having their first babies. They are well established in their careers though. I have a nine and six year old, and am just starting my carreer aspirations.
I briefly hit on this last post, but my greatest fear in life is that my children make the same mistakes that my husband and I made. They may not be as lucky as we were. Many addicts do not make it out alive. I fear that they will discover how off the chain we were and use this as a reason, an excuse, to use copious amounts of drugs.
Even more terrifying for me, is the fear that my daughter will discover that I used heroin for part of my pregnancy with her and refuse to speak to me because of it. She and I were both clean when she was born, but she may not understand the intricacies of detoxing off of heroin while pregnant.
I hope that 2015 will be the year that I start to overcome my fears.

Slippin

DMX “A yo/ I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’/ I can’t get up/ I’m slippin’, I’m fallin’/ I can’t get up/ I’m slippin’, fallin’/ I gots to get up/ Get back on my feet/ So I can tear shit up,” -Slippin’ by DMX

Last night I was laying in bed watching YouTube makeup tutorials (as I often do before bed), when all of the sudden a wave of dense, black complete and utter sadness washed over me. It was a feeling that I am unfortunately all to accustomed to. “Here we go again,” I thought.

For some strange reason, I was hit with this fear of death. This happens to me every so often.  After my dad died, I went through a stage of severe depression that was directly linked to an intense fear of dying. This lasted for a few months. Months of feeling like literally nothing was worth doing because I was just going to die one day anyway. Ever since then, every once in a while, I will be almost end teleported back to that time in my life. It is a mix of fearing dying too young, wondering what is the point in anything, being saddened by how incredibly short life is, and worrying that I will not accomplish anything significant during my short time on Earth.

I turned 30 a few months ago. I have been having an almost mid-mid life crisis. I worry that I wasted my youth, my twenties, and that I am starting my life so late that I will not ever accomplish anything worthwhile. I live a rather closed off life. I trust very, very few people. On top of that, I have had to distance myself from a great deal of the friends that I hung out with for the last almost decade because they were my “get high buddies”. I often feel like Gatsby, where if I die, virtually no one will realize or care. It will be one of those situations where someone casually mentions, “Hey, remember that girl that we went to high school with(or worked with, or whatever)? She died a few months ago”. “Oh, that’s sad”. Followed by the people going back to whatever conversation that they were previously involved in.  The ironic thing is that while I am fearful of a funeral that is attended by three or so people, it is I who pushes everyone away.mi have just been hurt and fucked over far too many times. It is easier to be alone than to be hurt.

I feel like I am in a race. Against time, against the world, against my inner daemons.  Once I get pushed into the race and the gun goes off, I do not have the option to quit. I wish it were that easy. The race is not a fair one, either. It is not on a flat, even surface. I am at the bottom of a deep hole. I have to somehow make it to the top, but the surface is smooth, there is nothing for me to grab ahold of to climb up. It is not as if there is someone there to throw me a life-line, and honestly, I don’t think that anyone would take the time to throw me a rope even if they could.

To a person who doesn’t or hasn’t experienced chronic and severe depression, what I am saying probably makes very little sense. The thing that I find that people have such a hard time understanding is that there , doesn’t have to be something major to drop me to the bottom of the well, or the rabbit hole as I tend to call it. There can be, but there doesn’t have to be.

For example, we recently found out that my mother-in-law has cancer in both her lungs and ovaries. My father died of lung cancer in 1996, and I sat on the sofa with him and watched him die. Hearing this news, especially since she is truly a second mother to me, brought back floods of images of my father’s painful death. The good news is that they caught the cancer in the very early stages, very unlike my father. She will not have to go through the chemo like my dad. I watched the chemo take a strong, healthy 250 pond man who hunted, fished, did construction for a living wither away to around 160 pounds, unable to walk, talk. A man who was on so many medications that he was incoherent, hallucinating all the time. They did not catch his cancer early, at all. He had been having bronchitis every winter for three or four winter in a row. Then the fifth winter they did an x-ray and discovered that one of his lungs was collapsed and that he had advanced lung cancer. My mother in law’s situation is vastly different. The cancer is small enough that they can remove it, also she doesn’t need her ovaries, so they probably will go in and take out the ovaries entirely. She is going to be fine, I have been praying nightly.

I don’t know if it was this news, or that we are headed into winter, or the fact that my husband was laid off, but I am desperate to try to get out of this tailspin before I am entirely consumed by blackness. I don’t really know why I am writing about this. Part of me just needs to write what I am unable to vocalize. Maybe part of it is that I feel that you are only as sick as what you hold inside. Also, just like with addiction, talking about depression helps to de-stigmatize it. Hopefully someone will read this and know that they are not alone.  I have been this way before, and I have survived.

What is it that I need? Someone to care, perhaps? Will that make a difference? I need to not feel like an insignificant piece of nothing for some amount of time. Even if it is brief, maybe it will be enough to give me hope that I may be normal at some point. Here’s to hope, I supose.

To My Mom

So this is, like most of what I do, a day late and a dollar short. Anyway, I wanted to write something about and for the beautiful woman who brought me into this world. We have not always had the eaiest relationship,  many years of it have been tumultuous at best,  but I love her with every fiber of my being. 

As I have gotten older, as I have had children of my own, I understand that as a mother we sacrifice everything for our children. When my father died she was not able to take time toGrieve properly.  She put eeverything that she had inside of her, to take care of my sister and I. Sometimes she would snap. Sometimes she would zap out. At the time, I would be angry that I was left to calm down and care for my little sister. Now as a mother of teo chikdren, I get it. 

 

She had a year or so before my father past, while he was dying of lung cancer, where she had to take care of a 5 year old, a 10 year old, and a husband that went from a strong man, a man’s man, to not even being able to walk.  It was nice just the physical deterioration that she was forced to deal with, either. He was so heavily medicated that he became an entirely different person. He hallucinated all the time. He often thought that our house was some sort of war zonem and that my mom was in charge of the opposition. Honestly,  I can not even begin to imagine the heartbreak that most go with caring for a person that in no way resembles the person that you married.  My mother,  though, she never complained. She was a soldier the whole time. She continued to work, and she took on the extra responsibility of my father’s health problems. 

When he died, she tried her hardest to make sure that we were ok. She took no time for herself. She never remarried,  hardly ever dated. It was just me and my sister.  She did everything on her own. She drilled into my head, that the worst thing in the world is to have people pity you. Honestly,  she may have taken this a little too far, but I learned how to be a strong woman watching her refudal to ask anyone for help ever.

I was a child and had no idea how much weight was instantly thrust upon her shoulders. She worked full time, she took care of us. She made ssure that we never had to move out of the house that my dad had built a massive addition on to. We were able to live in his place of handiwork. 

My mom, used to tell us stories about her hippy days. She saw the Beatles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hanncock, and many others. She would talk about going to Mowtown concerts that would have all the greats. She went tothe fampus Monterey IInternational Pop Festival. She instilled in me a love of music.  One time when I got stoned with her, she sat there and stared at the radio saying that she was “watching the music”. She played Michael Jackson, and the Four Tops, and Linda Ronstead, and the Beatles.  She took me to a Prince concert when I was 2 years old. I learned from her just how powerfully music can affect your mood, your entire being. She is the reason that I wanted to become a music executive. 

As I previously stated,  my mom was a full fledged hippy in her youth, her twenties. She taught my sister and I to love everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation,  economic status. She showed us the injustices in the world.  She explained how fucked up this world was. She told us about the Veitnam protests. She shared stories about the civil rights movement. 

My grandfather fought in World War II as a Marine and received two Purple Hearts. After he left the Marines,  he went into the CIA. He was like three people from the top dog, and his job entailed that him, my grandmother,  my mom and her two sisters and four brothers move all over the world. My sister and I would listen intently as my mom told us stories of living inside the Berlin Wall.  Of moving into a house in Japan that came with a chef, a maid, and a nanny. We would revel in the fact that her entire family had to use false identities for every new country they went to. We lostened to the fascinating story of how their true identies were discovered in Japan and they had to leave right away without packing or daying goodbye to anyone.  I woukd jealousy ask about her times in Spain and Paris.

I learned what a feminist was from my mom. She (and then Courtney Love) sparked what would be a life long love of feminism.  She showed me what a REAL feminist is, hot the stereotypes.  We are not ball busting, man hating, dykes. We are just women that want to be treated the same as men. My mom never asked for special treatment because she was a single mother, a widow. She got fucked over at work, amking less then men that had the same position as her even though she worked twice as hard and was twice as good. She always had some asshole trying to rip her off because she was a woman. Mechanics,  plummers, electricians, really anyone that came to fix something at the house. She didn’t complain,  she just started having one of her brothers with her when getting estimates.  She never wanted pity, she figured out how to deal with a fucked up situation the best that she could.

What I am trying to say is that as a child I had no idea, not even the slightest inkling of how much she was dealing with. I would see her freak out at my little sister and I, telling us that she couldn’t take it anymore,  that she was leaving forever, get in her car and leave, and be furious. I would think that she was being so selfish. I didn’t understand how much of her own happiness she had sacrificed for us. She didn’t grieve the way she needed to because she was trying to keep our lives as normal as possible. Sometimes it was just too much and she would snap. I get it now. After years of putting my mother through hell,  of refusing to forgive her for mistakes that she made, I get it. I grew up, I had kids, I stopped being a fucking selfish brat. I look at my kids, and I see how much she gave up, how hard she worked. She kept our lives as normal as possible after the death of my dad. She bought us nice clothes, she took us on vacations,  she kept us in the h I use that my dad built. She did her best to keep us happy. When I went through my struggles with addiction, my mom never gave up on me. She supported me time and time again. Her love knew no limits, and I am almost positive that her love and support is part of the reason that I made it through to the other side alive. For that, and for everything, Mom, I love you. Now and forever. 

Broken

I walk through fields

Fields of pain and glory

He is like an angel

Crippled and fragile

This is too much for me to handle

I have changed

And he’s turned bitter

I’m tired of pretending

I can not do it anymore

Wipe the smile off my face

My happiness died with you

I am far too broken now

I am beyond repair

You left me here, alone

Now there is not a thing about which I care

I still cry for you

Screaming, begging to the heavens

Pleading for you to come back to me

I’m all alone

They’ve all left now

They got bored

You have long since been forgotten

All the stars still weep for you

Their tears rain down

I have been wilted

My petals are torn, ripped to shreds

Do you still love me?

Or is the answer what I dread?

Murder’s a Tough Thing To Digest

“Hospital days, reflectin’ when my man laid up/ On the Uptown high block he got his side spayed up/I saw his life slippin’, this is a minor set back/ Yo, still in all we livin, just dream about the get back/ That made him smile through his eyes said, “Pray for me”/ I’ll do you one better and slay these niggaz faithfully/ Murder is a tough thing to digest, it’s a slow process/ And I ain’t got nothin but time” – Jay-Z “Dead Presidents 2”

Jigga is of course speaking about the struggles that one has when one commits a murder, and I am talking about the murder of a dear friend of mine, but the basic sentiment is the same. This is the story of a great man, named Rick, who died was killed trying to stand up for the honor of me, my husband, and my sister.

Rick was murdered on December 28, 2006. He was trying to set the record straight to drug dealers who had nearly killed my husband, sister, and close friend. The story is a little complicated, so stay with me.

First let me tell you a little about Rick. He was in the Navy and fought in the Gulf War. I met him as most addicts meet other addicts, in a round about way through other people.

One day, Aaron and I were at the pawn shop doing something, when he ran into a guy, let’s call him Pooh Bear, with whom he had been locked up with about a year before. We gave Pooh our number and  went on our way.

He called the next day, and he paid us to take him boosting, to cash in, and to cop. This became a regular thing. (On a side note, one day when Pooh was not available I went into the stores and started boosting. It was a piece of cake and thus started the couple- long since past- years of boosting pharmaceuticals as opposed to our normal hustle). One day he called and said that he had money and could we pick him and his cousin Rick up. In typical Pooh fashion, he didn’t have hardly any money, but Rick did. Rick got us well.

We started hanging out with Rick daily. The three off us made a great team. Aaron at the wheel, Rick and I going into stores. We would pull off team gigs, were one of us would draw attention while the other boosted.

Ok, fast forward to summer of 2006. By this time, an old friend of mine since elementary school was living with us. We will call him R. R is crazy. I mean for real. Escape attempts, pulling knives on security, didn’t give a fuck.

One day we introduced R to a guy we hung out with sometimes, Jarred. We would all get high together.

One hot July day, we were all (all being me, Aaron, R, Jared, and the couple who stayed at the abando that we hung out with) getting high. Jared had another $100, and needed a ride to cop. R said he would take him. R had just shot some coke and had no more money.

So, R takes him to cop, but see Jared is too scared to get out of the car and run up in the hole (alleyway, abandoned building, whatever) to get the shit, so R does. He comes back and on the way home starts shaking the wheel slightly. “You feel that?”, he asks Jarred. Jared agrees that he does, so R pulls in to the gas station and hands him a dollar. “Go get me some change for the air machine, we must be flat.” Jared hops out and R pulls off.

Understandably Jarred was pissed. Karma has a strange way of coming back around though because R was one of the only ones that wasn’t really affected by this.

You should know that it just so happened that about two days prior to this, we had gone to our normal spot to get some coke, but they were not out. We went down the street. Their shit was bigger and better and we ceased going to our original coke spot. We had mentioned this to jarred when he commented how big the dimes of coke were.

Now, I guess Jarred knew who did it, because I know he didn’t have the balls to do it, but some one stole a pack of coke from the first coke dealers. Jarred then, in an act of retribution, tells those dealers that WE stole their coke, and that is why we hadn’t been up there lately.

Ok, following me? I swear that this is all going to tie in.

By now, it is December of 2006. I have four warrants, Aaron has three, and R has one. We couldn’t live at the house because the police came by too much, so we lived in a Ramada in Baltimore.

One night when Aaron and R were out boosting with a guy who we will call M, R got arrested. He had lied about his name, so he was being held with out bail. The police took all of what they had stolen. Aaron and M stopped at one more store just to get a couple hundred dollars worth of stuff. Buy the time they cashed in it was late. R had just been arrested, everyone was tired and no one was out. My friend T was waiting at the room with my sister and I. Aaron and M came back to the room, while Aaron, T and my sister went to cop. To add to the night that had been so fucked up already, was that no one was out with dope. Aaron called me and had me call this guy who had been blowing my phone up about his good dope. We were desperate, so we figured we would just get $100 worth from him, and save the rest of the money.

I call him and tell him that they just pulled up. He tells me he sees them. He proceeded to walk over to the SUV and shine his phone in. He looked at everyone in the car, pulled out a revolver and said, “you know what time it is.” He put the gun at point blank range and fired, but the gun jammed! Twice the gun jammed! This gave my husband enough time to put the car in drive a pull off, but not before the dealer pistol whipped my sister a couple times cracking her teeth and busting her mouth open. At the time we had no idea why he did this.

The next day, I checked my messages and the dealer told me that he would make us pay yet for stealing hi shit. We were dumbfounded. We hadn’t taken anything.

Aaron got locked up like a week later in Baltimore, and I was arrested a couple days before Christmas on the warrants. One day, on December 28, I called home. M and Rick were there with my sister. I talked to both of them on the phone. M and Rick had just dropped my sister off at were going back in town to cop. I told Rick to be careful and he told me to keep my head up in jail.

Rick got out of the car, while M waited. And waited. It was Rick’s car, and M was sitting in it with no keys. Eventually he called my sister and got picked up. They told me about this the next day when I called collect. A couple of days later, my mom told me what had happened. Rick had been murdered.

We pieced together what happened from a couple of friends that love where it happened. Rick went up the same street where they thought we stole the coke. He confronted them about it, saying that we didn’t take it and asked why they thought that. They explained that Jarred told them. Then they killed him.

Technically, his case is unsolved although we all know who did it. The guy is serving life in prison for two other murders.

The police did their “investigation”, if you want to call it that. In reality though Rick was just another drug murder in a city that was the murder capital of the US that year. They didn’t really care.

Rick paid for Jarred making shit up. He paid for R ripping off Jarred. He paid for all our sins. He had a daughter who was nine at the time of his death.

Rick was a good man, with a bright smile. He was always willing to help someone out. He wasn’t stingy, and he didn’t hold a grudge. It is such a cruel twist of fate that he was killed because Jarred and the dealer couldn’t let go of their grudges.

We never saw Jarred after R ripped him off, so I don’t know if he is even aware of the consequences of his actions.

I do know that Rick was a really good person, and is in Heaven now.

Murder IS a tough thing to digest. I have yet to fully digest his death. Hopefully, I have enough time to comprehend such a loss.

Daddy – a poem dedicated to my father

I look in the mirror

Who do I see?

I’m all alone

I need you here with me

I never claimed to be an angel

 But I am really, really sorry

And I have always looked up to you

I know you see my truths

I never got you out of my heart

So burn me down

So I’ll come back to you

Like a phoenix, I’ll rise from the ashes of my sins

More beautiful than before

Stronger and hungry for more

Daddy Dearest

My father died on November 21, 1995 of lung cancer. I watched him die on his “spot” on the living room couch. He did get to say goodbye albeit weakly, but I did get that. His death affected my life in more ways than I can even begin to concede.

My dad smoked my whole life. One year he was diagnosed with pneumonia. And then again the next year, and the next. When I was 11 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and told that he already had a collapsed lung. My little sister and I would told that he would be fine. He had quit smoking the first year that he had been diagnosed with pneumonia. He was also in good shape. He was a construction worker. He hunted every winter and took me fishing every summer. He was strong, he would beat this.

He opted to receive chemo. It tore him down. Fast. I watched the man who built our house, who took me fishing constantly, who worked full time and raised a garden become a skeleton who couldn’t walk or hardly talk. He was on morphine, fentanyl, and so many other pain meds that I was afraid to be left alone with him. One day, he had me hide behind the couch with him because he thought that our house was a war zone, and that my mother was the enemy. He would tell him that Elvis floated downfall rom the ceiling singing “Blue Suede Shoes”. At the age of 11, I didn’t know what to make of this.

I was young enough when my father died that my memories of him are still that he was perfect. Obviously, I know that he wasn’t, that he couldn’t be, but to me, he is.

I was really into theater as a kid. I was always doing a play. The fall of 1995 was no different. One day in November after school, I arrived at home to find a lot of family there. My mom and my aunt took me into my parents bedroom. They told me that my father was not doing as well as they had hoped. I asked them if would be able to see my show, which I believe was “P.T. Barnum” in March. They told me no, he probably would not make it past the new year. I felt so betrayed. They lied to me! They said that it was to protect me, but it installed my life long distrust for others.

A nurse was to come that night to take care of my father. He had IVs, he couldn’t really walk. My mom needed help. She was to arrive at around bedtime so that my mom could sleep. About an hour or so after I was told that my dad was dying, he called to me. He motioned for me to sit on his bed. He managed to get out “Goodbye”. He knew. He had my family members move him to his spot on the couch and we watched him die. The nurse showed up about 10 minutes after he died.

I don’t remember much of that night. My aunt took my sister and I to her house for a little bit. When we got back home in the middle of the night, he was gone. My mom, my sister and I all slept in my mom’s bed that night. I will never forget that we all woke up at about 6 am. Each of us had the exact same dream that my dad came to us and told us he loved us. I have believed in spirits ever since then. My father’s spirit has come to me and my kids ever since.

My dad died right before his favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. This started the Thanksgiving curse. The next year, after Thanksgiving dinner, my grandmother had a stroke that paralyzed the left side of her body, including her brain. She was never even close to the same person from that day until her death. The following year my aunt’s father died the day after Thanksgiving. My daughter was born on November 28, 2005. Exactly one decade and one week after my dad’s death. She was the first grandchild, the first great-grandchild. She broke the curse of death with her life.

After my dad’s death, I spiraled into a deep depression from which I have struggled with my entire life. I have had trouble getting close to men. This was multiplied by the fact that the first man that I got close to after my dad’s death, at the age of 15, raped me in the middle of the night when I was 16. The next man I got close to,  my high school boyfriend, was a mean, alcoholic. Luckily I found my husband, my soul mate, because if he ever betrays me I will probably never be able to get close to another man.

My life would have been so different if my father had not died. For one he would have never let a boy spend the night at my house. This would have prevented the rape. I lived to make him proud. I don’t think that I would have gotten into drugs if he were around.

I often wonder what my dad would think about how I turned out. Disappointed, no doubt. I always feel that I let him down. I pray for his forgiveness often. I wish that he could hug me and tell me that he still loves me.

He would have loved my kids, and them him. We have pictures of him throughout the house. My daughter used to tell me that my dad “who lives up in the sky” would come and play hide and seek with her. She said that he was a really good hider because she could never find him. She was only between two and three. She was too young to make something like that up.

My son used to be afraid to go to his grave, but is not so scared anymore. He thought that a graveyard had skeletons everywhere.

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Me as a baby with my mother and father. Circa 1985

I know that I have made a mess of my life, Daddy, but I am working on get my life back together. I am just a little bit of a late bloomer. I am going to make my 30’s count. I am going to be a worthwhile member of society. I hope that you can look down on me and be proud of the woman that I have become.