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all is silent here in Mayberry. i sit here, quiet as a church mouse, chain smoking and thinking of you. your memory shrouds my heart this morning, as golden sun falls upon grateful ground

as i look across the room at the bed we shared,
i recall when you and i were ‘we’. my rocking chair creaks a bit
as i consider the things we shared in that bed. passion and pain; tears and laughter…all packaged like a lovely gift, wrapped up in the pillows and comfort. even so, as much as i stare at that bed,
you are never coming back.

i remember the last time i held your hand in mine. it was cold…swollen…lifeless. next to your deathbed, i stood, realizing that i held the hand of a corpse. i was so angry at what they did to you; those ghouls in their white coats. i was angry with you for what you did to yourself, hating myself for never finding the courage to walk away so that you could have a better life with someone new.

it’s been a year and a half now, but, every day, when my eyes open i see your face and i feel your cold, dead, hand in mine. i don’t know if i’ll ever let go of that hand. i love you so much. no matter how bad things were between us, that is still my truth, as it has been for the last 34 years of my life.

the man i mourn

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It’s a beautiful morning here in Mayberry, and I am feeling so very grateful to be here. I’ve gone through a lot the last month or so. A misguided attempt to help someone who was very special to me led to hurt feelings and what have you. Honestly, I don’t know who I thought I was that I would even attempt to save someone else. I can’t even save myself. But some people just sort of stick to your heart for reasons you may not even understand. When that happens, you have to at least try to help them, should they find themselves in a terrible dilemma. That’s what I think, anyway.

I’ve been being productive on the homefront. My little house is beginning to take on the ambiance of a sanctuary. It’s like a tiny jewel box, holding all of my very favorite things. I have no room for much else. If something doesn’t qualify as an heirloom or ‘most loved’ possession, it doesn’t get a spot here. The reason is a simple one: My dining area, den and bedroom could all comfortably fit into the den at my old house. My entire kitchen is about the size of my old bathroom, and my bathroom is the size of my old closet. To say that I have downsized is the understatement of the century. However, in light of how badly things turned out in the year before Bennie’s death, I’m thankful that I’m not living in a refrigerator box under an overpass.

Bro is coming to visit at the end of October. We are finally going to all be together, at once, and will be spreading Bennie’s ashes. He will have been gone a year and a half by then. I know that seems a rather long time to wait to have a proper funeral, but Bro couldn’t get enough time off of work before, and we all wanted to be together when we finally laid Bennie to rest. It will be nice to have my boys together. I wish it weren’t such a grim deed that they will gather for, but it is suiting that they be the ones who dispense of their father’s remains. Bennie was their hero…a god to them. Even after he changed, the relationship with his sons remained the same. I thank God for that.

Yesterday, I took Bennie’s picture off of the shelf. It’s in the buffet with every other picture with him in it. I enjoy having family pictures sitting about, but it’s not easy to see his face at every turn. So, for the holiday season, his image will be long gone from my view. I feel better, already. I didn’t realize how much it was bothering me until I closed the door to the buffet. The moment it closed, I swear I could breathe deeper. My chest hurt less. It was, instantly, less tumultuous inside of my head. I had no idea that it was bothering me so much.

I think that we all grieve differently and that we are never certain how grief will manifest in our lives, over time. I had joined a couple of groups after Bennie passed. There was much discussion of the Five Stages of Grief. Initially, I was relieved that there were only five stages, figuring that I could work right through them and be done with it. However, I quickly learned that there are a million stages of grief. And, they don’t come in a specific order. They reveal themselves when THEY decide it’s time.

In so many ways, I have yet to truly acknowledge Bennie’s death. I don’t know if I ever will. Don’t care if I do, or not. All I know is that it’s taken me seventeen months to make my personal boat stop rocking and to find some real footing without him being here. As horrible as it was to be married to him, at least I knew my role in life. I believe that knowing who you really are, and what your role in this world is, is the most difficult part to deal with when your abuser passes. You grow so used to catering to someone that it becomes natural. You don’t even hear the noise of it all until it’s quieted by the hand of God. It’s a paralyzing thing, that. Silence. Normalcy. Taking care of yourself instead of someone else. You wouldn’t think the last thing would be so difficult, but it is. Because, when you live with someone who constantly puts you in your place, the only thing you want to do is take care of them so that they will leave you alone, if that makes sense. You don’t spend a lot of time on how you look or dress, as they may call upon you at any moment and you don’t want to be ‘dragging ass’ when they do. Unless you enjoy getting spit at and/or on, or find the sight of a man with his hand on a gun while he yells at you to be a good thing.

There is so much about my life with Bennie I’ve never told anyone about. Partly, because I don’t like who I was with him, and I think the fact I stayed with him all of those years reflects very poorly on me as a person. I don’t recall having too many good things to say to the man during the last years of his life. I do recall jumping when he said jump. No matter what I said, he always knew that he was in control of me. He loved that. He loved to control me. And, it was only me. I don’t know why.

I really don’t know why I miss him. But, I do. I guess it’s because he knew everything about me, and I, him. At my age, there will never be another who knows me that well. I’ll never look into another man’s face and be able to remember what that face looked like at 18. There will never be another man who was my first. Nobody will be able to laugh with me about that night in the back of his truck, fumbling around like idiots under his old sleeping bag. lol! It may not have been the ideal ‘first time’, but I’d take it over a planned night at the San Louis any day. I guess that’s the guy I’m mourning. He’s the one who danced in the living room with me…the one who’d take me to the beach to make love while we watched the sun rise. He was the one who woke me during a midnight thunderstorm to take me outside to play in the rain because he knew I loved it so much. Truly, I think I’ve been grieving for that man for fifteen years, already. I never really knew the man who died in that hospital. That man was cruel and selfish and hated everything about me. He wasn’t my Bennie. And he deserved what he got.

always your girl

20160618_090307i dreamed of you last night
as darkness swept over the land
we were young, you and i
in love
full of joy
as we strolled down the beach, hand in hand

in my dream, you smiled, so sweetly
as you did when love was new
in your eyes, i saw my future
our children…
that was back before we were ‘me’ and ‘you’

time began to move faster, then
even though it was only a dream
days came and went
and we couldn’t save us
nothing between us was as it seemed

everyone who saw us
even those who knew us very well
thought you and i were great together
and so we were
as we’d created the perfect Hell

on the day you died
it was far too late
to say another ‘i love you’
so typical, such twisted fate
but i knew you loved me, too

it’s so hard to make a life
in this wicked world
till we meet again
and, in spite of all that happened
i will always be your girl

i miss you, b.

she talks to angels…

Bennie used to say that he thought of me when he heard this song. He said I was just like that girl being sung about, because I, too, carried the hair of an innocent in a charm that contained the elements of our environment, and a bit of our life force. I still do. Only now, it’s his hair in my charm, and tears of grief to embrace it. There is life essence and a prayer inside, as well. It hangs in a beautiful bottle from my rear view mirror, so that he can go where I go. I try as hard as I can to contain the things that the charm represents within it. Even so, and for whatever reason, I don’t expect to be letting him go any time soon, though it would be a dream come true.

The truth about charms is that they only work if you believe, and if those beliefs are reasonable, at that. I’ve no such reasonable beliefs. And, grief…it doesn’t limit itself to the stages assigned to it. It has its way whenever it wants its way, just like Bennie did. It is a torturous process that each one of us will endure, or be the object of, sooner or later. I close my eyes, sometimes, and try to imagine the face of grief. It’s hideous and twisted and snarling. It isn’t a dragon to be slain. It’s no wild beast that will, eventually, live out its own life and fall away. Grief exists in a vacuum, determining its own rules of engagement and its outfit is replete with all things needed to attack and attack until it leaves you broken. Though I see no end in sight, I do believe that, one day, I’ll wake up and I won’t even recall his name. Every day I wake up is one step closer to that day.

While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is dim, at best. But, it’s there, no less. At this point, I cannot honestly say I’ve gone through the ‘stages of grief’. The situation is a complicated one. Every day, I ask myself what sort of prisoner cries over the loss of her captor after being set free? It makes no sense. But, our hearts aren’t designed to make sense; that’s a job for our brains. As most people know, the heart always wins out. I think that makes life as beautiful as it does painful. It’s the human condition…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a.m. 

Sitting here in the stillness of a Mayberry morning, thinking of people I once loved,  who have passed on. I rarely allow myself to dwell on remembrances of them. I’ve never been one for mourning. Until Bennie died. It’s been fourteen months,  ten days,  since he left. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. 

I can barely remember a day, since he died, that wasn’t filled with tears. My face has changed because of it. I didn’t know that could even happen. Till now. The shrink said I  mourn him because I have a type of Stockholm Syndrome. I can see why he’d think that, but I’m not sure it’s true. When you spend most of your life with someone, no matter how bad it was, I think it’s natural to miss them. Although, I can’t define what it is that I miss. It’s nice not to feel afraid, or to have to pretend and cover so much. It’s nice not splitting time between love and hate, as well. It’s strange to look at pictures he took of me in the months before he died and see the changes in my face. My eyes are always puffy and I don’t quite look like myself. He definitely left his mark. 

There’s something about this morning that feels beautifully somber. Grey skies weigh heavy, in many different ways, as this day begins. Their weight feels grounding and reassuring, somehow. Even the birds are quiet. I suppose everything takes time to reflect, now and then, especially on a morning such as this. 

Secrets

I hate to open my eyes in the morning. No matter how hard I look, he’s never here. Never will be. Yes, I know…bastard this…s.o.b. that…Well, maybe so. Maybe I miss him because, somewhere inside of me, I am the same as him, and always was. 

Perhaps this sorrow is not me mourning my husband, but me confronting my true self for the first time. What if he was right about me? Is all of Hell truly at the root of my being? 

On the outside, I’m kind and generous…smiling…pleasant. The only indication that something could be wrong is my weight. After all, who allows themselves to put on so much weight were they not hiding something? I’ll tell you who…Someone trying to stop herself. I suppose I should say no more than that. 

I’m trying, desperately, to understand the situation I’m in. My eyes are nearly swollen shut from crying. I know myself well enough to know that it won’t stop until I figure it all out. I can’t believe that I only began to understand my heart’s misdirection this very morning. In most matters, my mind follows my heart. That has always been my undoing. 

As I sit here on this beautifully somber day, my head spins with new insight. Could I really have been the impetus for the way he behaved towards me and for the violence that literally coursed through his veins, bringing about his end? And, if that’s the case, what about me made him confident that he’d get by with it? It makes no sense that I’d be both the cause and enabler. Maybe it’s because he knew of my darkest heart. That which came down through the women of my family for generations. The secret I shed long ago, but not soon enough that he had not witnessed its power. 

The secrets we keep are what make us who we are. It isn’t love or faith or any good thing. That is a lie perpetrated by the guilt of generations so that we won’t see the truth in our humanity. We share a veil with the other side. It’s thin and flimsy and corrupted by the slightest touch. It is only a single breath that separates the living from the dead. One. Were it not for the lies we’re raised on, perhaps we’d see that the best part of who we will ever be lives within that one breath, and that, should we gather the strength of heart to reach out and touch that veil, we would truly, finally, be free of our secrets. 

Day 59 a.d.

Going to see the lawyer. Time to deal with probate. I don’t think I can do this. But I have to. I’m so tired of doing things I don’t think I can do. I’ve always faced things…took care of what need be. This is different, that’s all. Every step I take, I the more dead he becomes.

Just last night, I felt I was making good progress in distancing myself from the misery of it all. This morning, that misery rains down like bricks. I don’t want to go. I do not want to go.

Please, God…I can’t face his death today. My heart feels broken in a million pieces. He was a horrible husband and, in the end, I learned he wasn’t really my friend. So, I don’t understand why this won’t stop, but it won’t. To me, he’s that cool guy I met cruising the boulevard with my friend. He’s the scared young man waiting for me at the alter as Dad led me down the aisle. He’s the best father I ever knew. If those guys could die, maybe he would, too. But guys like that live forever. As they should.

day 47 a.d.

He’s been dead 47 days now. As hard as I try, I can’t stop counting the days. In so many ways, I feel like a murderess, caught up in her own betrayals and sentenced to a life sentence. But, it is no crime, nor is there a sentence, for betraying oneself. And, each day you killed off because you could not break free of the entanglements of the heart is only that…a day. Even though each and every one we live is one that we can’t get back any more than we could bring blood-life, again, to one we took.

My mother insists that I should remember his terrible ways. She says that, should I have a good memory of him, to immediately recall a hurtful thing. True, I could to that. I did enough of it while he lived and breathed, after all. But, Mom wasn’t there for the good things…the intimate things a woman only shares with the man she loves. She wasn’t there for Christmas mornings spent hiding with him, camcorder in hand, waiting to hear the first little feet hitting the stairs to come see what Santa left. She wasn’t there to see him flying into the parking lot after a hard day’s work, to catch the last bit of Little League practice, or how he’d tell me to stay in bed as he’d get up to check on the boys if one cried out in the night. She never heard his laugh. Not the one I heard as we’d trade stories of childhood misadventure and awkward first dates. We had some great times together, he and I. They count, too. Just because things didn’t end well with us does not mean that we did not share something amazing once. If I’m going to live with his memory, I want those things to be part of it. I’d honestly love to let the bad things fall to the dirt with him. I can’t, but I’d love to.

when i was pretty

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he always liked me when i was pretty

when my makeup was perfect

nails and tippy toes cherry red

he liked to show me off as though i were a prized pig

i didn’t mind it

i never said anything about it

because that’s all there was

he always wanted me when I was pretty

he’d ask me to wear his favorite negligee and he’d twirl me around the bedroom

wine flowed…music played

we’d dance for hours

then, we’d dance…for hours

it pleased him

though it wasn’t love, it was all there was

he still cheated on me when i was pretty

because i was never enough

and it excited his ego to cheat on a pretty one

i never took it personally

because i knew his game and how it was played

i was only a part of it all

i was a mannequin he placed in the window for his women to laugh at

it wasn’t love, but it was all there was

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for so many years i stood at the mirror

preening and making ready for his approval

till, one day, i stopped

because no beauty that ever looked back at me

could shut down the pain machine

i was the fuel

but there was no key

his yelling insistence that i go back ‘the way you were’

it only sharpened my resolve

he could take whatever he wanted

but i’d not dress for the occasion ever again

he hated me when i was pretty

he hated me when i wasn’t

that’s the truth of it

it was never love