I Just…

Sometimes, there just are no words.

People tell me I need to keep writing. That it is ‘good’ to keep writing. Yet I don’t feel this way. Because I just…

I just…

I just.

It is all that comes to mind. All that seems to sum things up. It is the only thing that makes any sense at any given moment. When my words only seem to tie my mind up, holding everything else hostage in its mangled mess of madness “I just” is the only thing that will set me free.

I just…

I just don’t understand. I just can’t deal with this. I just don’t want to deal today. I just. I just. I just.

When the pain is so thick, when I feel it pulsing through my veins and come through my fingertips, when I can barely function –yet smile at the crowds and comfort those around me with an “I am fine…but really, how are YOU?” The words, they comfort me. “I just…”

Why bother others with my tales of woe? Why disclose how I really feel when there is nothing that can be done. When it only brings on more pain and more empty hope? When every stone has been overturned, and every avenue explored –why bother looking for something when there is absolutely nothing? When I search for answers, purpose, meaning and help –the words are always there to bring me back around…”I just…”

I just don’t know. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. I just don’t know how I will do another day. I just don’t know why I would want to.

When people tell me well-meaning things, when people seem to have moved on, when people don’t understand, when others forget, when guilt moves in…the words are there to help combat and offset. “I just…”

Because they hold very little meaning. They mean absolutely nothing. They hold no greater meaning. They just sum up what I can’t in a neat, two word sentence…they say everything and nothing, because I just…

I just don’t know anymore.

I just don’t care.

I just can’t.

I just.

I just.

I just.


“I lost my nephew.”

The phrase itself doesn’t seem to mean much. The questions that follow are usually related around his family: his parents, siblings, etc. The ones that were (or were supposed to be) close to him, the ones –that should have been here to walk this difficult path with him. Yet instead –he was stuck with me. Me. Who thought –like the blind fool that I am –that he, of all people, would be ok.

Eight years ago I decided to give it my all. After weathering a couple of the most difficult years in my entire life –I gave up everything –everything –to pursue them. I changed my entire life, for them. I fought like nobody’s business to get them back. Because I thought it was the right thing. I ignored everyone who thought other, and pushed my way to the top –choosing to believe that these kids were my second chance. I fought so hard that I failed to realize the logic, I suppose. I was blindsided. I was zoned in. I had tunnel vision. I refused to see any other option: Because if I looked any other direction –I would have given up.

I would have given up eight years ago, because I had lost everything that meant anything to me.

Except that I didn’t. I chose to fight. I chose them.

No, it hasn’t been easy. I have questioned myself –countless times, but the one comfort that I could always give myself was that I was doing the best for these kids. I was giving them everything I could. I was doing my best. The rest just had to be ok.

Except that…

I failed to realize, that, it perhaps, wasn’t the best.

…and ten weeks ago, I “lost my nephew.”

Or rather, I signed the papers and watched as they unhooked the machines keeping him alive –because let’s be honest here, he really died last year sometime. Or perhaps, he died ten years ago –with the rest of his family.

Yes, I lost my nephew. But I also lost a whole lot more. I lost my focus. My goals. My reason. My logic. I lost my hope. My security. My safety net. I lost my footing. My grip. My hold.

Perhaps it is unfair to say that. Perhaps it sounds like I put too much weight on these kids. Like I depend on them too much. But the truth is…I do. I worked so hard to get them back, to love them, to give them the life they deserved. I worked so hard –I pushed everything, literally, everything aside for them. I was ready to give up –eight years ago, and some reason –I felt compelled to give it one last shot.

…and now.

Now all that has been reduced to a simple statement that means absolutely nothing. A statement that doesn’t seem to mean anything to anyone. A statement that doesn’t seem to say just what has happened.

When I say the words: I lost my nephew, inside –my heart screams out. He was more than that. He was more. Why can’t you see. Why can’t you understand. Why don’t you see:

I lost everything.

Taking a Break

Looking back, I often wish I would have written more. More especially during those dark and early days where up and down don’t seem to have an order. The days where you really don’t honestly know if what is happening is real, or if it is all just a big nightmare that one day (hopefully soon) you will wake up from. But living through it, yet again, I have a different perspective. Many times I have sat to write –and come up empty handed. I simply have no words. There are no words. There is nothing that can be said. There simply is, nothing.

The reason I wrote very little wasn’t because there weren’t a million and one things racing through my head, causing train wrecks at every corner, it simply was because there was nothing to be said. While there was plenty going on, plenty of angry thoughts, empty threats and useless words –nothing made sense and nothing would form into thoughts. Sentences. Paragraphs. There was nothing. There is nothing.

Just a bunch of hot and angry thoughts that demand to be answered, yet are deemed unanswerable.

Life is more about living in the moment. Living through the moments. Living for the moments. It isn’t made up of days anymore. In fact, there hardly are days anymore. I don’t know what today is, or what tomorrow is. I have a rough idea that there are days passing by, but not a solid idea on what today is. I rely on others to tell me if there is something of importance that needs to be done, because right now…right today, I am living in moments. Brief snippets of life. Desperately trying to regain something…from absolutely nothing.

I’m taking a break. From life, from writing, from work. From everything. I need some time. Some time to regain my mind, my composure and most importantly…my words.

A few days ago I boarded on an airplane that took me far, far away from that familiar world of mine. After spending hours on an airplane –I landed in a seemingly familiar, yet all too foreign land. A place where I am free to live confused and on a timeless basis. A place where I have no responsibility to the outside world, or an image to withhold. A place that isn’t riddled with questions, and reasons. A place that sees me as I am now –the same as I was before. And not a changed or different, damaged or broken version.

A place where I can truly just be.

Without having to try and string together words. Or make lunches, and deadlines. A place where I don’t have to pretend to be ok –but can honestly just be. Ok or not ok. And no one knows the difference.

One day, I plan to return. To life. To my words. To everything that means the most to me. To the broken land of hurt and pain. To the place where I have to come to terms with what has happened, but until then…until then I choose to embrace the moments. I choose to immerse myself with the unfamiliar, new and adventurous nature that doesn’t come naturally –but pushes me.

I’m not ready to plunge head first into the details of what happened. I’m not strong enough to fight for awareness, or bring attention to the things that happened –regardless of how many lives it may change. I’m just not there yet. One day, I will. I promise that one day –all this will be for something. That this life and this death will not be in vain…but that day…is not today.

Today. I am living in the moment. The moment that says time has no restraints on me. I live by the sun that comes up in the morning and sets by night. I don’t wear a watch, don’t carry a phone and don’t live on my computer. Today, I live. Surrounded by moments that one day –will carry me through the rough realization that this…is not reality. But today. Today I live. In the moments.

When The Walls Fall In

2f803f3fa71ab35b018623a239fc7c65I woke up last night in a deep panic. It took a few hours of talking myself down before I was calm enough to make sense of what was happening. The main reason being that I couldn’t argue that the things I was dreaming / thinking about, weren’t true. Because they were, in fact, very true. There were fractures of untruths scattered in, but in the moment of panic -deciphering truths isn’t my strongest suit.

It’s ironic that on the one day that I just want to bury my head and not be ok -I have to get up and show the world how its done. For reasons that are still unknown to me.

It’s terrifying to know that I’m falling -and this time there is no safety net. Nothing to stop me. I simply don’t know if I am strong enough to save myself from falling deeper and deeper.

It’s as if the entire world has forgotten already. Two short weeks later, and the entire world has moved on. It continues to spin -uninterrupted. Lives continue to move on unobstructed. And as if I am supposed to somehow be moving on with them I try. I put one foot in front of the other. I smile when appropriate, and laugh on demand. I say I’m ok, and inquire about the status of others. I listen as they tell me the details of their own lives -their own unobstructed lives.

…and at the end of the day, I pull the blankets up over my head and stare into the darkness.

Because there is nothing left to do.

There is no walking away from this. There is no being ok. There is no recovering. There is nothing anyone can do to make it better -so why put that burden on them. Why seek out answers when there are none. Why seek help when there is none. Why attempt to be ok when there is no definition for ok.

As if it matters, I attend meeting after meeting. I hear the words, and recognize that people are talking to me. Asking my opinion. Looking for my input. Hoping I will make the decision. It’s up to me, they say. It’s in my hands. His future, his school, his education, his life. The very thing I worked so hard to achieve for them all -and failed, miserably at. Is still somehow in my hands. The only difference is I no longer feel adequate to make these decisions.

It isn’t a matter of what if, it’s a matter of when. When will I screw this up. When will I fail this. Again.

Against my better judgment, I make the call. Not because I think I should, but because at this point all I can do is keep on pretending. Until that day arrives and I can finally admit the very thing that everyone already knows: I am not cut out for this.

These kids were the only thing keeping me from drowning, ten years ago. The weight of the responsibility, enough to drown me, was the very thing that kept me afloat for so many years. And now it is gone.

I get up, I get dressed. I carefully walk the thin balance beam of routine that has been carved out to help the remaining kid, and then we go our separate ways. I wonder how much longer I will be able to keep up the persona that everything is ok. We are ok. Until that too comes crashing in.

Relief, perhaps.

When I no longer have to carry the burden that I know what I am doing. That I am ok. That this life is just fine. That we will make it. Because when it all comes down to it, the only thing that is left is to give up.

There is no coming back.

Not this time.

Not ever.

But until then, I am fine.

We, are fine.

Dylan Thomas

December 12, 1998 – July 14, 2015

Two years after unearthing the cold truth that there was something more than “Just being a teenager” wrong, eight months of constant worry and wonder, therapist and meetings, two months after an official diagnosis, seven months after his sixteenth birthday and countless hours of time spent in pain -it is over.

For him, at least.

After riding the rollercoaster and walking the tightrope of trying to find help, and wanting to believe that he was ok -it has all come to an end. An end that no one but he wanted. In a way that no one but himself wanted.

Countless well meaning people have told me numbers of well meaning things in the past. The fool proof plan of it all, the reason it is, why he was the way he was and of course, how to fix him. As if he were a broken toy that just needed new batteries. As if somehow I hadn’t thought of the glaringly obvious notion that there might be something causing him to think this way. As if.

I feel like I have been in this spot enough to know, like being here should seem familiar. Like I should have all the answers to all the questions, and should be schooled enough to know if this is ‘normal.’ But instead I am left feeling absolutely nothing.

Which is perhaps the worst feeling of them all.

Knowing that someone who has been such a major part of your life for so long -is gone, is one thing. Understanding it is a completely different ball game.

I don’t know if its ok. I don’t know if it will ever be ok. I don’t even know if that will be ok.

It may have been what he wanted, to finally put an end to the endless running inside his mind, it may have been his way of finally getting a release after all these years. But with his release comes a wave of confusion. It uproots the entire base of life, and sends you into a tailspin of trying to grasp reality, while having nothing to hold onto.

I’m sorry it wasn’t enough. That there wasn’t enough that could be done to help.

The Irony of It

They say when you are dying, or someone is dying, that your life (or theirs, I suppose) flashes through your mind.  That you have all sorts of thoughts.  On what you did, should have done, could have done, would have done.  Maybe that’s true.  I don’t remember.  All I know that is today -there are no thoughts running through my head.  No memories.  No thoughts.  There is absolutely nothing.  My mind is completely empty.  So empty, in fact, that when I attempted to talk to someone today it came out in a mad jumble of nonsense that made NO sense, and made me sound like I was irritated with the person I was talking to.

I have mentally begged to stop every step of the way.  I didn’t want to get out of bed that Saturday morning.  I didn’t want to get in the car.  Didn’t want to get on the airplane.  I didn’t want to walk the halls of the hospital.  Every door in that seemingly endless row of doors that we passed, I gained a small fraction of hope that maybe, just maybe we would keep walking.  And we wouldn’t have to stop.  We would just keep going.  But just as I started to entertain these thoughts, the nurse stopped, opened the door -and led us in.  Shattering whatever hope remained.  No matter how foolish it may have been.

As if stopping, would somehow bring this all to a screeching halt.

It’s ironic, much of it.  Ironic that six years ago I was writing that it “Was Over.”  Ironic that I honestly believed that at the time, it was over.  The we had finally found that middle ground where things would probably suck at times -but we would make it out.  Ironic because out of all of them, I really believed he was the one that would be ok.  Ironic, I supposed -that I let myself believe these things.  Blind hope, I suppose.

The one question that has been haunting me I suppose, is wondering what was missed.  Obviously I suppose it was just being blinded by the false hope that reality was ok -when really, it wasn’t.  Choosing to believe that things were ok -when they weren’t.  Holding onto hope that this life really had something worth holding onto -when really, the only thing there is to hold onto is the reality that things will never be ok.

It’s ironic, I suppose -that the one place I have fought so hard to stay away from, is the one place that seems the most inviting and the most comforting.  Ironic that I tried.  That I thought this would work.  That it would be better.

I guess the only thing that really rings true, is this time, perhaps -it really is over.

Happy Birthday: To A Friend

I wanted to write you something for your birthday -without it being completely weird. Words mean the world to me, and most times -with a little bit of time and effort (and a few extra words for flavor) I can find the words for what I am trying to say. But writing something to you left me high and dry, which was weird. Because I can almost always find words to write.

I can’t define the moment we became friends. I remember when we first started talking, and when we first started having cookies -but the moment the conversations went from casually talking to another person, to really talking to someone as a friend, is a moment I can’t define. Most likely because like all good things -it came organically. It wasn’t forced. It wasn’t done under pressure. It just happened. Over time.

Making friends has never been a natural talent of mine. People, as you know and as we have discussed in great detail -are idiots. So many are not worth wasting time with. Being friends with them is draining, frustrating and completely one sided. There is rarely that moment when you can actually sigh relief around a person. There are very few moments in life that I have found, that I can honestly relax and enjoy life around people. It is stressful, frustrating and complicated. It leaves me wishing I never left the house, and could move to that abandon island where there are no people!

And then somehow, for whatever reason, perhaps one of life’s great mysteries -you said hi to me, and I said hi back.

And however many years later -regardless of time zones and countries -we still talk.

But it isn’t frustrating. It isn’t stressful and it isn’t complicated (unless we eat brains, but that is another story for another time). Talking to you is the highlight of my day, I don’t have to explain every single thing to do, or justify having a crappy day. You never have discouraged my pipe dreams, and seem genuinely interested in what I have to say, and what I do. While others ask why – you say awesome! And while that probably leads to more trouble than I need (read: social groups) life has been really different since I met you.

I mean this in the least creepy way possible.

I don’t know if you realize it or not, but people are honestly very lucky to know you. Those who don’t are missing out on a bright spot in their day. Your humor (or humour for you) is something that very few people have, and is something that more people should learn to enjoy -maybe you should give lessons. Your philosophy and stance on life has changed the way I think, and made me look for the good instead of the bad. Despite everything you have gone through, you still manage to make others smile.

I for one, am very lucky to be able to call you a friend, and hope you know how much your friendship means to me. It isn’t something I will ever take for granted -knowing that friends like you truly are rare.

Happy Birthday, I hope you had the best day -you deserve it!

One day, Maybe

When I brought her home from the hospital that windy October afternoon, I never imagined what the next two years would hold, or that two years later I would leave the very same hospital with empty arms and an empty heart. I never imagined that I could love her so much that it would hurt so bad when I did leave. I never imagined that so many, many years later -she would wander across my mind and catch me off guard as I remembered the days. The days I spent not with her -but the days spent without her.

The days I spent with her were so short. So few. So far between. The memories I made with her were untainted, and unrecorded. I spent time with her not out of guilt or desire to remember, or because there might be a time when I looked back and would need those times to get through the difficult days. No, I didn’t spend time with her because of fear. The fear that I might not see another day with her. The time was short, but it was untainted, and unforced. It was as natural as it could have been.

As much as I have pushed through the grief and everything associated with it, and come out the other side -there is one piece that follows me around. Life will never be the same, and I have come to accept this fact. I have come to understand that I won’t be the same. I have even become ok with life, and have put my best foot forward in trying to understand the future, and what is involved with it. I have put my head in the game, and for the most part -do a pretty good job at living life. Or so I like to think. But there is one thing that still nags at the back of my mind.

Spending time with the people I care about and love is something that has taken me a long time to come around to. Getting close to people, opening up, talking, sharing, and building relationships is hard. It doesn’t come natural or easy. I constantly wonder if I am screwing up, doing it right, or making an un-fixable mistake. If I spend too much time with someone I wonder if it was the right thing. But not spending time with them leaves me wrecked with guilt imagining a day when I look back and WISH I had spent more time.

I long for those simple, untainted days.

Those days where I didn’t look at someone and want to plead with them to just take a few extra minutes and listen to what their kids are really saying. A day when I can spend time with the kids, and people I love and not have to feel like I am doing it out of duty -or for a rainy blue day.

I wish for that dumb, blind and ignorant view of the world. The one that knows there is danger around every corner -but assumes that somehow, it is for everyone but me. The one that sees sick kids, and only feels a small bit of remorse for what they are going through, and not a full fledged panic attack brought on by the memories of hospitals, machines, and death.

To go back to those days -where life was difficult, frustrating, confusing and hard. The life that made no sense, the life that I was screwing up -yet somehow made work. The life where a smile could make the entire day a little bit better.

Instead I try, in vain, to not be held back. To love without restraint, and live without regret. To be without the guilt and constant reminders. Sometimes it works -and sometimes it doesn’t. Some days I am able to say no without feeling guilty, and other days I am so wracked with the feelings that I could have…should have, done more -that I am unable to say no, and instead say yes, yes, yes -a million times over. As if buying extra candy, spending money I shouldn’t and giving time I don’t have will right all my wrongs. As if trying hard enough today will twist the past -and change the future.

One day maybe.

One day.

The Dance of Life

Yesterday morning the alarm went off waking me up from a deep sleep.  Assuming it was still Saturday and not, in fact, Sunday, I muttered something about being forgetful and setting alarms -and turned it off.  It wasn’t until we were 30 minutes behind schedule did I wake up realizing that it was, in fact, Sunday.  It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal (I can shower in under 5 minutes if need be) but waking Josh up and rushing him through the morning wasn’t happening.  It threw his entire day upside down and by the time the sun was threatening to set, he was asleep.  Exhausted from the amount of effort he had to put into the day.

Simple things -such as not being able to run through his morning routine -are vital around these parts, and most days -I don’t give them a second thought.  They are what one might call, normal.  At least to us.  He wakes up early, shuffles out to the living room where he watches his morning TV ads.  He likes to be alone in the morning.  Some prefer to wake up with someone beside them, some prefer coffee -he prefers solitude.  I can respect this, and let him do his thing while I oversleep or prepare for my own morning.  Regardless, we stay out of each others way until TV ads are over and I have consumed enough coffee.

If I am still asleep he will slap me across the face to wake me up -and if I am already up, he will move onto the next item on the morning schedule.  He picks his way through breakfast, we fight it out over clothes, morning hygiene and if we are both lucky -we will be out of the house only 5-10 minutes late.  He goes to school, I go to work.  I don’t see him again until later that night -after he has put in his hours at school, therapy, socialization, and everything else that is deemed important.  Things that stretch, push and pull at him -things that make him uncomfortable, angry, irritable, and frustrated.

By the time we reconnect he wants his alone time.  This can be anything from hiding under the bed to laying stretched out on the floor with nothing but his underwear.  It depends on the day, the trials and troubles.  Depending on his location and the amount of time spent in solitude I can gauge how his day went.  I don’t need to search his backpack for notes, clues or hints.  I know it all by watching him.

The world doesn’t operate around him, and as luck would have it -not everyday is the same as the day before.  These small changes wreck havoc in his mind.  He doesn’t flip out like he used to.  He doesn’t panic, run and scream.  He doesn’t claw his way out of his own skin.  He doesn’t bite, kick, or hit.  He used to.  He doesn’t drag his feet to school.  In some small way -I think he might even enjoy going to school.  The routine, the familiarity, he is a people pleaser and there are plenty of people to please at school.  But at the end of a long day -he likes to unwind, and I try to stay out of his way until he is ready.

After homework and dinner are complete, clothes taken off and put back on -he flops into bed.  Lately, due to various circumstances -we share a bed nearly three times as big as the one I am used to.  He draws -marking the top blanket.  I take the red pens away, he glares.  He stashes the remote controls.  Lines them up.  And laughs when I cant find them.  I laugh too, because in his mind -I like to assume he is playing a joke on me.  I watch him draw lines, make squiggles and create master pieces.  Something that just a few years ago -he wouldn’t do.  Holding a pencil was enough to make him scream.

Eventually he falls asleep -and for a few minutes I sit.  Watching his chest rise and fall.  Finding the comfort in the even breaths he takes.  Surrounded by chaos and confusion, the simple things -such as watching his chest rise and fall gives me comfort.  I try not to think about the things in life that keep me up at night.  The unfamiliar future.  The uncertain condition of the future.  The things I don’t know or understand.  The innocence of children dying.  The pain and sadness.  Instead I watch his chest rise and fall, and take comfort in knowing that in this moment -this small window, this tiny fragment of life -I too, can breath easy.

Tomorrow isn’t certain.  Life is unfamiliar.  Stepping out and changing who I am is not easy.  But I owe it to him.  I owe it those who are no longer here.  I owe it to those struggling and hurting.

I can’t promise him a smooth day, a better tomorrow or a bright future.  But I can keep promising that as long as I am able -I will fight to give him the best that I can.  Whatever that may look like.  Even if the best is dancing carefully around the landmines in his life -trying to give him space, comfort and peace within these four walls so at night -he can flop on the bed, take a deep breath -and fall into a sleep with dreams that will one day, come true.

Against the Future

A few days ago I hit that all too familiar place in my life. The one where the thoughts start spiraling out of control and instead of entertaining ideas like what we will do with our weekend -I start making plans for other things. I start fantasizing about driving to the liquor store and picking up two of the finest bottles. I start dreaming about drinking both of those bottles. I can feel the way it runs down my throat. I can taste it. It is so close. My thoughts continue to spiral and in the matter of minutes I go from a somewhat reasonable person to feeling nothing but anger, sadness, frustration, and yes -the so familiar friend -guilt.

The kind that wraps itself around you like a warm blanket and then tightens its grip -refusing to let go. Refusing to let you go.

I am familiar with all of these thoughts. So really, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise. But it did. Because they came from seemingly left field, they caught me so off guard and suddenly that I had no defense. I had nothing to bring myself back up again. It was simply spiraling into that deep dark black hole -alone. And to be completely honest, it scared me.

Not in an “I am scared of spiders, thunder or the dark” sort of way, but in a gut wrenching, heart ringing, head spinning kind of fear. My thoughts take control of themselves and there is no stopping. The guilt the squeezes until the last drop of life is out, the fear that takes control, the thoughts that never release…

I sit here today feeling as though I have just ran with the bulls, only instead of running with them -I lay beneath them as their hooves trample me -again and again, over and over, relentless. My body is tired, my mind is deflated, my heart is vulnerable and weak. I count the days down until the weekend will arrive -and take me away. Perhaps through drink, perhaps through sleep.

My tired mind screams to just give up the fight already. There is no reason to keep fighting. There is no reason to sacrifice the very things that at least give temporary relief. There is nothing keeping me on this side anymore. There is no point. No reason. No logic. The fight itself is simply not worth it. These thoughts mingle with the rest, conspiring against me whispering sweet nothings in my ear -reminding me again and again of the failures that have come as a result of me.

The thoughts that the world would be a much better place if I, for one, were not in it -are not even enough to rattle my cage anymore. To give that much credit to myself would be an insult to the rest of the world.

In a moment of frustration I drag myself outside into the heat of the day. The sun beating down hard giving our small town a very unusual introduction to summer, treating us to 70 degree temperatures where normally 50 would be suffice. I run. One foot in front of the other until I can go no further, and then I keep on running. Willing myself to run away from these thoughts. As if I run far enough, fast enough, hard enough -maybe I will be able to sneak up behind them, take them by surprise and put an end to them, once and for all.

Where did they come from? Why now? Haven’t I been doing so good? Too good? Maybe if I could trace their origin I could take them down. Once and for all.

But taking them from behind is not, in fact what I need to do. Facing them head on is the hardest. Running from them is easy.