Happy Birthday My Girl

My words are slowly coming back, but they still are tangled and confusing -even to me. I tried to write something but didn’t get very far. October is a very confusing month for me. I thought about passing it up this year, but it just didn’t feel right.

Instead I will just say -Happy birthday my girl. Wherever you are.


The Tangled Web of Confusion

Some years are better than other…easier, I should say. Some years are easier than others. Some years are more difficult than others. You would think that this many years into things I would be somewhere close to accepting the hand I have been dealt, but I’m not. The heart wants what the heart wants -and the heart wants anything but this.

This isn’t to say that there haven’t been some good moments sprinkled in, there have been good days, months, years even. Good times. But when this time of year rolls around, my heart gets covered with that black rain cloud and begins to wish for better times. Better days. Better years. Those better moments.

Last night while driving home I was overcome with the urge to veer off the road and into the nearest telephone pole. Ending it all. The pain, sadness, the overwhelming feelings of frustration and lack of control, all of it. It isn’t so much that I would do that -but the thought was enough to drive my already fragile mind over the edge.

I did all the things I am supposed to do -when life seems too much. When the desire to give up is stronger than the desire to hold on. I took a long shower, I thought about all the good, I told myself that it would be better in the morning. I reminded myself of all the quotes and sayings and stockpiles of happy times I have squirreled away for moments like these -but sometimes, in the deep, deep darkness -not even the largest amount of quotes can help.

Sometimes you just have to feel everything there is to feel -regardless of how difficult it might be, and trust that with the morning sun -there will be relief.

I straddle that line, so close sometimes -wishing for clarity, for relief…and perhaps, even for some answers. Some answers to untangle this mad web that I have created. The one that complicates things. The one that says “if only…” and “what if…” the one that becomes even more complicated as the days wear on and as the past comes up -again and again.

When the lines are crossed, when the feelings are intertwined, when its all rubs so close together that there is no seeing out…

I want to feel so badly, what he felt. To know, so strongly, what he thought. To get so close to know that there was absolutely nothing I could do -but the closer I get, the more I feel, the harder I realize the more I understand. I could have. If only. If only but a few minutes sooner. If only but a few days earlier.

The heart wants, so badly -to be close to her again. The mind, so badly -wants to understand what he was thinking.

The combination is confusing and frustrating, complicated and hard.

And the realization that the untangling of this complicated mess may never happen is enough to send me further over that invisible edge.

I just want it all to stop.

Drops in The Bucket

It’s been a week. A week of challenging days and rough moments. Nothing earth shatter or moving, nothing life altering -just normal, everyday life. With broken relationships and shattered dreams and crushed ideas of what this world should look like, what my life should look like. Selfishness getting the better of me, I don’t know. It’s been a week.

A week that I have went to bed way earlier than I even care to admit to. A week that I have pulled the covers over my head and wished it all away.

I tried to remind myself -over and over, that these things are just small issues in light of everything else. In light of people dying and getting sick, in light of so much else -these things are simple drops in the bucket. But the bucket is already so full, that these drops make everything seem like so much more than it already is.

Things are so carefully balanced upon each other right now, that the wrong move, wrong word, wrong look -can send me barreling over the edge…at a time in my life when I really need things to be steady, they are anything but. And I have to learn that it is ok.

I need to learn to take a time out, to properly manage my stress and frustrations and not turn into a basket case on people who are just starting to get to know me. I know that, for next time, but that doesn’t help -this time.

I get jealous, so so so jealous -of people who only have to deal with these seemingly simple issues, on their own…and then try to remind myself that they too, have other issues. They just know how to manage them better. Just last week, I met one of the happiest, friendliest, nicest people in the world. One of those people who ooze happiness on everyone they see -yet have a real deep sense of the world around them, enough to know just how to comfort you. And then I found out she is battling cancer.

With two young kids.

And a smile that could slay dragons.

…and here I am, bemoaning about my issues that could be here today and gone tomorrow yet somehow, bring me to my knees.

I want to be that person -who can smile and laugh through the worst of times, but I don’t know how. Because these small, insignificant problems I have today, seem like major mountains that will never be moved. I want to be that person -the one I know I can be, the one I know I once was. But I don’t know how to be. Because everything comes at once and threatens to overwhelm…and then it takes over.

There is no room for happiness, there is no room to see the light. There is no room for good. Because my life is so filled with the opposite.

But I refuse to let these moments define me. I refuse to be categorized as a negative person who refuses to see the light. I must come up. I must regain my footing, and I must do it quickly…because there are plenty of dragons out there that need slaying and I am tired of being one of them.

Especially Then

Sometimes, if I think about it long enough, it starts to press down. Like a ton of bricks, starting with just the one…and slowly adding two, then three…before long I can’t breath, because there are a ton of bricks sitting on my chest. There is no way to move them, no way to get out from under them. I try not to think about things, especially for long periods of time. For the most part, I do ok. I get up in the morning, we manage our way through the day, picking up things here and there -and then go back to bed.

Day after day. In and out. Up and down.

I can usually pinpoint where things start crashing in, that heavy feeling doesn’t come over night…its gradual. It starts with just a small opening, a simple thought, a what if…and instead of slamming the door shut, I leave it open -just a crack. Because maybe there is an avenue unexplored that would answer the gnawing questions on my mind.

A bad dream, an unsettled answer, a judging look -it doesn’t have to be anything big, just something to get the ball rolling, and before long I am buried, crushed beneath the bricks.

I try not to dwell on it too long, my past, the past, but every so often -it has a way of sneaking up on you. That is the thing about the past -you can leave it behind, but it will find its way in because no matter how hard you try, your past is a part of who you are. It makes you who you are today, it intertwines with your day to day thoughts, weaving in and out of your life, mostly unnoticed -but there. All along. And sometimes -it comes up. In the small, everyday things.

The common questions, the answers that are routine -it is there. Ever present, a constant reminder. You can run, but you cannot hide.

I do my best to avoid. To look to the future, to dwell in the present. To not be blind sighted by the past. But it is a part of who I am, like it or not. It shapes my thoughts, defines my fears and outlines my desires.

It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, it doesn’t matter how long it has been, or how deep the wound has be buried. It doesn’t matter.

I still miss her.

I still miss them.

I still miss them, every day.


Even on the days that I don’t realize it. Especially, on those days.

Never Enough

The weeks leading up to the first day of school are often stressful and frustrating. While most people are counting down the days until they are able to drop their kids off and have a much needed break, I am racking my mind for ideas to keep a certain kids clothes on all season long. I am thinking up of all the possible things that could and will go wrong -and solutions for them. I am trying to remember if I signed all the papers, met all the people and agreed to all the things.

Chances are I missed something. Chances are there is going to be at least one person who judges our mishaps along the way, and while this silent judging rarely bothers me -it is a new school, with new teachers, new faces and new people to impress.

All this newness also means there are going to be the inevitable meltdowns along the way -from both the kid and myself. And probably a few teachers. When the school season finally does come to an end, we won’t sigh relief -because it will mean ironing out a new normal, a new routine, a new schedule -just after we got used to this one. I don’t complain about it, I don’t talk about it, and I rarely mention it. It is what it is -it comes with the responsibility and the process. We all have our thorns. This is mine. This back to school business.

I bought all the pencils and binders, books and packs. I bought shirts and shoes and jeans that I know won’t get worn. I bought a lunchbox that will carry his lunch to school and home again -day after blessed day, because hard as I try he will not eat unless he is in the comfort of his home and everything is as it should be. But still, I pack the lunch I know will get thrown away because someone might question if I don’t. I buy the shirts I know won’t get worn -because at least it will look as though I am trying. Not hard enough, never hard enough -but at least trying.

The morning starts the same way it does -every day. With a bowl of cereal and a pile of TV remotes. Quietly in the early hours of the morning he gets cereal and remotes and talks himself through his day. I don’t know what he says, or what he does -but I know it works and I know it doesn’t hurt anyone and so I let him go. I throw the cereal away a few hours later, right next to the cereal from the day before -because he doesn’t eat that kind. Only the other kind. Only after his morning routine. Only once the cereal has been thrown away and the remotes accounted for. Only then.

I try not to show the panic that has settled in next to the guilt, panic about how the day is going to go down, about how the year will pan about, about how nothing ever goes as planned and this certainly will be no different. Guilt over not doing enough, not trying hard enough, over doing too much and not enough. Circles upon circles of endless thoughts.

The drive in is quiet. I step around the fragile questions I am not sure if he has or not -trying to settle my nerves as much as his. Trying, desperately to make this seemingly mundane and normal task -just that, when it is anything but. Trying to fight away the thoughts that crowd my already fragile mind. Hoping, desperately, for a normal moment when it is anything but.

He walks through the school that we just visited not even two days ago as if he has been there for years. He ignores his teachers and gets straight to business making himself at home with something he shouldn’t be touching. “He will be fine.” I tell no one but myself, and then I leave. Because I know after years of doing this that ripping the Band-Aid off quickly is better than slowly.

I am alone with my thoughts for the first time in months. Alone with nothing but myself and the stale air. Alone. The perfect time for all the jumbled thoughts to align and make force. I only dropped one kid off this year. Only bought supplies for one backpack. Only arranged for one kid to go to school. Only made lunch for one box. Guilt for not trying hard enough. For pushing too hard. For not seeing things earlier. For not stepping in sooner. What went wrong, and why? The questions that never seem to have answers flood my mind, because for now -I can’t be bothered to push them aside.

This one has come so far -the one they said wouldn’t. The one they said would never make it to seventh grade -is now entering the seventh grade. The one they said wouldn’t understand laughs at his own jokes. The one they said wasn’t worth it. The one I drug, kicking and screaming, yelling and biting down the halls of school only to be called back ten minutes later because it wasn’t working today. The one that hid in the corner screaming for hours at a time. The one that fought, tooth and nail -everyday, all day. Is now walking into new situations like nobody’s business, leaving me in the dust -the way it should be.

But the one they said would be fine. The one they said was just having a rough year, a rough patch -just needing some extra time. The one they diagnosed, and treated -that one, isn’t here. For reasons I still have yet to understand. The one that was supposed to be ok -wasn’t. He wasn’t here for the first day of school. He won’t be here to get off the bus. Won’t be here to complain about his teachers or homework.

Too much, not enough. Never enough.

I try, because it’s the only thing I know how to do. Even when I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. I try, because if I didn’t try I would give up. I try, because there is nothing else left to do. I try, because he deserves more -he deserves better. But it will never be enough. The intermingling of the thoughts, the twisting of ideas, the comprehending of the future. Binding the past with the present and trying to make a future.

It’s hard.

Because it’s never enough.

It’s Where I’m At

I’ve been trying to compile my thoughts for sometime. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. In fact, I think it has been well over a year since I have intentionally sat down to write something specific. Lately it has been more of a stream of conscious -write what you feel, write when you feel -sort of thing. But there has been something chewing away at me for a while now. Something that I am not entirely sure, how to say, but know it needs to be said.

I read something a while ago -about the dangers of thinking when you are tired. How when you are tired, it is easier to let the negative thoughts creep in because you aren’t strong enough to combat them. I’ve found it to be true. But difficult. Considering I am tired 99% of the time anymore. The article went on to say that when you are tired and those negative thoughts come, you can’t fight them so they sink in further -you begin to believe them and in a vicious cycle you become even more tired and beat down -because of said thoughts.

It is an interesting thought and one I have been actively trying to be aware of. Late at night -when those hurtful thoughts of guilt want to seep in I have been trying to tell myself that I will deal with them -when I am not tired. I don’t shove them off as not being true, because they feel so true -but I don’t want to fall victim to believing thoughts that aren’t true, just because I am tired. Unfortunately, this has also made me more tired -because lets face it, fighting off thoughts is never easy.

But it’s where I am.

Trying…and from past experience, trying is all you can do.

I’ve reached some really dark places these past few months -and while I could easily beat myself up for going there, I am trying to choose the option that says I went there -but I came back. I am still actively trying. I am still scared of those dark places -but fear, I have found, can be good. It lets me know that I am not completely gone, and on those days when I really wish I were -I can draw some comfort from knowing that I have fought to stay here…

Nine years ago, interestingly enough -I reached the place I will always refer to as rock bottom. The place where my life was so far upside down that I didn’t know if there was any coming back -or if I wanted to come back. While I would always have considered the death of my daughter to be my rock bottom -there was more life had to throw at me that would take me further, deeper and darker. Nine years ago I was ready to throw the towel in on everything. Quite literally steps away from calling it quits.

I won’t even know why, exactly, I chose to give life one final shot -but I did…and the result would be the past eight years.

Up until last year, I would have said these past few years were the recovery period. I worked hard to get out of the deep, dark hole that I had found myself in -and somehow, managed to come out on top. On top to the point where I was planning ahead. Looking to the future. Calling the shots. Moving on. After a stretch of challenging years, this seemed like the break I had been waiting for. The place I was aiming for. The landing place, if you will. Success.

Except that, last year happened.

I’ve taken this past year off. Given myself some much needed slack and just coasted for a while. I didn’t put myself in any positions that required additional thinking. Didn’t make any life altering decisions. Didn’t get back up right away.

But now that we have coasted past the first year, I am trying to pick myself back up again. Put the pieces of the shambled puzzle back together and make something of this tattered life I have been handed. I’m trying. Because that is all I can do…and all I know how to do. I don’t know yet -what that will look like. It might look like a whole lot of nothing, a whole lot of complaining, and a whole lot of whining.

I am still actively fighting off the dark thoughts. Still fighting with my shadows. Still arguing away those painful days where all I want to do is give in. But I’m still fighting. I’m still trying. I’m still here. If ever so silent. Because I’m trying. It’s all I know how to do.

One Year Later

I turn on the news and cringe as the only thing that seems to be happening is more pain and turmoil. In an already shattered world, these senseless acts make even less sense. I answer the phone and learn that yet another life, innocent and young, has been taken. I can’t even browse social media or join seemingly safe groups without hearing about death. In many different forms, but still the same. Death. Finished. Complete. Gone.

My mind understands why, but my heart is much slower these days –and still struggles to keep up.

I wake in the middle of the night –yelling for it not to be true…if only I could go just a bit further then perhaps I would find the solution. The answer. A few more minutes. That’s all I need. I beg for more time before I open my eyes and realize the only one privy to my midnight outburst is the dog…used to my antics, she doesn’t even wake anymore.

I try to do my part –I try to add some good back into the world. I pay for dinner in the drive through for the person behind me. I purchase ten extra cups of coffee. I put together bags and deliver them at the homeless shelter. I smile when I want to cry. I pick up complete strangers and give them a ride. I listen. I hear. I act. But it is rarely enough.

Because I turn on the TV that night and see the news of more pain. More suffering. More hopelessness…and slowly my heart begins to understand just what yours felt.

The pain of this world, is just so much. The burden of others –too heavy. The wish for peace and happiness, impossible.

The thing is, despite having all the knowledge –despite knowing what you felt, what you went through and what you would still be going through – I cannot understand, completely, why. Why it wasn’t enough. Why it couldn’t have just been enough. For one more day.

Much like the reoccurring dream that haunts me when I sleep –I wish for more time. Just one more day, to make everything right. To build that perfect world where only peace and happiness exist. To take you away from this world that caused you so much pain and suffering. To give you the happiness you deserved.

There is nothing I can say that will change the events that took place last July. There isn’t anything I can do that will change the way you thought, but it won’t stop me from trying. Buying coffee and giving strangers rides will not bring you back –but it might just give me a small glimmer of hope in the seemingly hopeless world.

The things I do are for you.

They are the things I do when I’ve spent another sleepless night trying to make sense of this senseless world. They are the things I do when I want to bury myself under the covers and never look out again. They are the things I do when I to and make sense of what you felt. They are the things I do when I can no longer try and convince my heart to understand what my mind already knows –when I no longer want to. They are the things I do when I miss you…when I am sorry.

One year ago I whispered to you: I’m sorry. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough. I’m so, so sorry.

One year later –I am here with the same whisper: I’m sorry. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough. I’m so, so sorry.

I Saw You

I saw you the other night, and instantly recognized the look on your face. Unlike others, I saw past your sad eyes and happy smile and recognized that you were trying to hold it together. Your normally happy disposition was tainted, like a stained glass –what once was shiny and bright had become dull and sad. Others probably assumed you were just having a bad day –a hard time at work, a fight with a friend, something you would soon be over –but much like others who have been down this path, I saw the sadness that hung behind your eyes like a well-worn blanket.

I wanted to say something –but didn’t know what. I wanted to tell you that it would be ok, somehow. That while I didn’t ever know if you would be ok –it would be. But I didn’t know how, so instead I told you to have a good day and cringed as you smiled…knowing that it was like salt on an open wound.

I bought you a card to a coffee shop, wrote a note and left it on your door –not knowing if you would appreciate the thought or want to destroy everyone in your path because couldn’t I see you were suffering?

The thing is –I know how badly you are hurting. I know the pain and anguish in your soul. I know how horrible it feels to wake up in the morning and be forced to put on the “I am A ok face!” I know how challenging it can be to have to go out of your way to convince others you are ok –when really, you are falling apart and just wish someone would care enough to notice. To acknowledge the pain. I get it.

If I could I would tell you that it will somehow be ok. That it never gets better, and you never reach the point of no return. That the pain never leaves, but somehow, somehow –you learn to live with it, beside it, despite it. You learn to acknowledge your own pain when others won’t. You learn to adjust, adapt, change and conform. To live without your heart and with the pulsing pain.

Somehow, you learn to see the beauty in the rain, the sun through your tears and the purpose in the pain. I don’t know how, exactly –but you do, and you will. Even though I know it feels like you never will see the light of day again, and giving up seems easier than trudging through this sludge left behind. Honestly? It would be easier. It would be easier to give up then be reminded, day after beautiful day, that you –were left behind. While others were chosen to fly free.

Somehow. It will become ok again. You might never be ok. Your heart might never be whole again. You may still wake up every morning and have to convince yourself that getting out of bed IS the best thing…but it will be ok. Somehow. Please believe me when I say this –because I say this not only to you –but to myself as well. As one who is in the trenches beside you, yet somehow millions of miles away –I understand. I see your pain. I feel your sadness. I am not fooled by your smile.

Please know that someone out there understands. Someone out there realizes you have a pain so deep that you feel your own pulse in your fingertips. Someone out there understands that your pain is so deep that you don’t know if there is any point of return. Someone out there is balancing that thin line of pretending to be ok –and losing it altogether.

The coffee card was not to help you celebrate your sadness or pain, but rather remind you that there is still some good in this world –even if it only comes in a paper cup. Please hold onto the fact that while you may not know me really well –we are connected by a thread much deeper than meets the human eye.

I see your pain and your sadness, and have not overlooked it. I know that you are hurting. That there is nothing that can touch that. But I am not willing to let you be overlooked. I see your pain –and I acknowledge it, and hope that somehow –that will bring a small amount of comfort to you in this terrible time.

Yea, I’m ok

Someone asked me a few months ago how I was, I smiled, and made some smart comment about life then asked how they were. They never looked back. I sighed relief, because once again –I didn’t have to explain just how not ok I was. They ask me all the time “How are you?” and I keep saying my standard answer. I keep telling them that I am ok –how are you? And then eventually, they stop asking. Because they know my response will always be the same. I’m ok. I’m always ok. Because I always have chosen to believe that if I’m not –I will be. And that small glimmer of hope that someday, maybe, one day, somehow, I will be ok? Has gotten me through some dark moments.

I decided a while ago that when I was having a bad day –I was going to do something nice for someone else. I bought seven cups of coffee last week. I only drank one. I still don’t feel any closer to being ok.

For the most part, I ignore it. Whatever it is. I go out of my way to actively avoid it –because avoiding it is all I know how to do. I know that if I face it –head on like most assume I am doing, that there is no coming back. And quite frankly, back is the only direction I want to go. Back. To when life was somewhat ok.

Because the truth is that I am not ok.

I don’t say it because I want to draw all the attention to me, because I don’t. I would rather go see the dentist than have all eyes on me. I don’t say it because I think it will help –I know it won’t. If anything, it will only hurt worse. I don’t say it because I think I need to, or someone is making me. No, I say it because it’s true. And right now, I don’t know what is true and what isn’t. I need to start somewhere.

I miss them. I miss them all. I miss them all, so very much. I miss them all so much that sometimes I feel as if I just hold my breath, maybe just maybe the pain that is surging through my body will leave. I miss them so much that it feels as if I have a thousand volts of electricity racing through my body. I feel like I am holding an electric fence. Hugging a sting ray. I feel as though if my chest were to split apart –then maybe I would have some relief from the pain that is building inside.

…and I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how I am still able to wake up in the morning when all I want to do is just keep sleeping. I don’t understand how I am able to breathe when my breath has been taken away. I don’t understand how my heart can still go on beating, when my heart has been taken away. Multiple times. I don’t understand why I keep going, one foot in front of the other, when everything I ever worked so hard for, is gone. Just like that. No questions asked. No take backs. No do overs. Just gone. I don’t understand why people keep asking me if I am ok. I don’t know what they want me to say.

Because no. The truth is I am not ok.

I miss my wife. I miss my daughter. I miss my nephew.

But saying it doesn’t make it any better. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t bring them back. Saying just how much it sucks and how badly it hurts to wake up every morning and face another day without the ones I love…does not change the facts. It isn’t anything new. It doesn’t help anyone.

So instead I keep waking up when all I really want to do is die. I keep smiling when all I want to do is cry, I keep saying I am ok, in hopes that one day it will be true…and I keep buying coffee for the person in line behind me in hopes of making maybe one person’s day a tiny bit better.

No, I am not ok. But I don’t know what else to do except fake it until one day –I can finally hold them all tight and never let them go.

I Miss You

I haven’t written about her here in a while, a long while, to be honest…and while part of that can be a testament of how time works in healing wounds, part of it is also because I haven’t been able to make coherent thoughts lately, let alone -words. One thing I have never been able to do is look at pictures that are, perhaps, close to the time of when she died. I can look at the pictures from the year before, months before even. But pictures that are close to the time when she died? I can’t bring myself to do that. I just can’t.

Last night I was looking through some old photos -trying to find one of Dylan when he was younger, because as you may have guessed, I can’t look at any recent pictures of him either, when a picture fell out that made me pause to catch my breath. In the quiet darkness of the night I held what is perhaps that last picture I ever took of her.

A picture of her in all her ornery glory. Her grin, her hair, the scratch on her chin that followed her to her grave. All of it was there. In one black and white image that I have never looked at or posted before. I took a few minutes to memorize the details before putting it back in the small folder that holds the hard copies of the very few pictures I have of her. Two years does not present a lot of opportunities for pictures. I have very few pictures of her…what ones I do have, I hold very close.

It’s been an incredibly difficult eleven years. I miss her more this year than perhaps in years past. I couldn’t tell you why -perhaps it is because the wounds have been opened and the grief of losing another person is fresh. I don’t know. It is different, this missing. It isn’t that soul scraping pain that feels as if you will be hollowed out from the inside out, but rather a dull ache that something…someone…is missing.

Small glimpses of her remind me of all that I am missing. I had a very few short years with her -and while for them I am grateful, I am constantly reminded of all that I lost out on. All that I am missing. All that I don’t have. While I try to remain positive and look at what I do have -I can’t help but look longingly over my shoulder at what was. What will never be.

Life moves on, and with it, I have no choice but to move on as well.

But sometimes I must pause and acknowledge that dull ache. I must acknowledge that I loved her, love her, and always will love her. That the pain is there for a reason, the memories are not for naught, that she did exist, that the hole in my heart will always be there -as a small reminder, a token. To what was. What always will be…but what never shall be again.

I miss you.