Winter Mile

There are roads to travel that go on for quite a while

but there are none that go on for quite as long as that

of a Winter Mile

When the light has wrung the last drop from dark beguiled,

there are none quite as somber bespoke as that

of a Winter Mile

Warmest sleep of children deep in coverlet dreaming wild

no safer haven of a lover’s wish be true than that

of a Winter Mile

Ghost Town of the Last Bouquet

of the lost bouquet

of the lost bouquet

It all happened so fast. Shortly before I died, a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you have a wake to see what it would be like when you’re gone?” I thought about it sincerely. I was only inspired to ask the question because several people I knew had passed from the breathing life. It’s not like I was inviting death to visit or anything. I was just curious as I watched people of all walks come to give honor to the deceased.

I’d considered mortality before when I look at the life I lead without children, without anyone to which I could pass my traditions and stories into the future. It took me several weeks before I concluded that I didn’t want to know what people thought of me. I officially opted out because nobody really wants to know how much they’ll be missed unless they didn’t plan on coming back, right?

A week later, I got sick. I went to sleep for a while. I’m not even sure what happened. I was, then I wasn’t. I tried to communicate with my husband but he couldn’t hear me. I didn’t understand. I spoke. I screamed. I tried to write to him. I watched as my friends showed up on my doorstep. I knew some of my beloveds were upset, but they buckled down to work as if their own lives depended on it.When I woke up, people I loved dearly were milling about my house. Many of them were packing up my personal belongings. Some of them were picking through my things, selecting items as mementos, while I stood in the middle of each room spinning in circles crying with grief.

There were times of visitation with my friends whom spoke tender words of compassion to my surviving spouse while hovering behind weeping eyes and choked words. I wanted to take away their pain. I wanted to wrap them into my arms, to offer them comfort as they’d done for me so often. But I couldn’t reach far enough out of myself. I was trapped in a place between planes.

While I witnessed the parade, I saw that people brought gifts, food, donations of all different kinds. I watched the place I lived become an empty shell. No decorations, no dinners cooking, no shower gel scenting the entire upstairs. I slept on the floor of my studio curled up in a small blanket-less cold ball on a smelly carpet. I tried to get comfortable, but there is no way when my life rejected me.

The next day all I could feel were spirits moving near me, but I paid them only enough notice to acknowledge they were there. I could hear the hushed tones of neighbors outside my window. I looked but I couldn’t see them. Everything took on a gray light as if gauze were filtering everything into uncomfortable dullness. I felt the press of others but I resisted their call. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to make sure my beloved was well.

People I didn’t know walked into my house and started commenting about the bare walls. They expressed how they were going to change everything around to suit their taste. It was then I realized my beloved was no longer there.

With a tug that dropped me back from the window, I turned to face a tall man that looked familiar to me. He reached out his fingers beckoning me to follow. He smiled reassuringly but I held on to the breathing life. I looked out the window once more, turned back to the tall man, with a burst of courage, I took his hand. Then I wasn’t.

Dark Moon Reflections

Night time is a go

Night time is a go

The midnight air is clamorous as crinkling cellophane.
The cranky crickets tick-tock in the grass with leggy chants.
The zz-zzt of the cicadas clamor boldly in jumbling rants.
The nearby expressway donates the rumble of trucks in lanes
trumpeting progress of deliveries unmet.
A flash of light shifts the shadows in the next room
as a car passes like a shooting star at the crossroad.
I open the door to feel the whispering kisses of the cooling air,
opened the windows to let in the songs of what’s out there.
The scent-dripping lilies stain the night

with mortuary perfume visited too often eons ago.

The click-clack of puppy toes traipsing laminate floor in the tone of wood
reinvent the solo of a long-hauler’s jake-brake slowing progress’ brood.
Barely audible, the neighbor’s open windows
bail laughter out in rapid chortles blended with giggles.
I smile as the humidity of their family
adds to the breath of life I’m inhaling with my senses.

17,167.4 days

That’s a lot of days to walk around the sun. 47 years for the math challenged (Dude, really, I used Google instead of using a damn calculator!) As I read through the Facebook reminders about my trip, I see many kind words and good wishes. I really love that. It reminds me that I made it around again trying to outshine the stars.

What I’ve come to love the most is when I get feedback from the people I frequently deal with that shows me how I am perceived by others. I know it sounds flippant to say it doesn’t matter, it does but it doesn’t. However, it does give me a valid self check about what I’m doing that not only feeds my spirit but helps others along the way. I truly feel blessed.

Inspiring

When I think of my personal definition of inspiring, I think of the people who teach me more things about the kind of person I want to keep working towards becoming. I wrote several times yesterday that I was inspired by the greatness of my Grandfather, aka Bapa, either directly or indirectly through his children, my aunts and uncles. When I apply the word to myself, I’m not really sure how that works. I do things to make the world a better place because I was taught that. I stand up and defend those who can’t because I was taught that. I love with all I have because I was taught that. Nearly all of that came from the Coleman side of the family. The rest I had to learn on my own.

To think of inspiring others from my life, I think of all the horrors I’ve seen. I think of all the struggles I’ve met and overcome. I ponder the battles I’ve had to fight in order to make it as far as I’ve come and I can see where that would shine the light for others too. I’m blessed to still be here. I’m blessed to know you too.

Laughter

If there is one thing without a doubt that could be said about me is that I love to laugh. I love to laugh so much that I commonly laugh at my own jokes or the absurdities that I come into with each new adventure. I love puns. I think farts are amusing. I love spoonerisms, knock knock jokes, high and low brow humor. George Carlin was one of my very favorites because he was a thinking man (Nothing sexier in my book). I love Ellen DeGeneres because she’s brave and incredibly witty. Robin Williams was a man I identified with so deeply, I seriously, all jokes aside, mourned for weeks. I knew when his light went out.

I’d rather be the butt of a joke than to let an opportunity slip by that held the potential to make my sides ache, my eyes leak, and snorts to come flying out of my nose. I love to tell funny stories because when I can make people laugh, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I touched them in such a primitive way because I know for a fact we all laugh in the same language.

Being You

This one rather tugs at me a bit. I asked several people what exactly this means. I hear, “Mare, just keep being you.” “I love that you’re so you.” “You keep doing what you’re doing.” And there I am screaming at them with a blank look on my face, “Who the fuck else would I be other than maybe a wealthier version of me. I could handle that.” I tried for years to be someone else. I WANTED to be anyone else but me. One day, I woke up and said, “I’m going to chuck it in the fuck it bucket.”

I say what I want as politely as is necessary, sometimes to the point of being brutally honest, but I won’t lie to you. I try love and compassion first because those work best in nearly every situation. But, I also will not allow anyone to walk on me. Four of my favorite quotes are, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi; “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde; and “Be pilgrims for justice and fools for love.” Rev. Jake Morrill’s Sunday service closing.

Hugs

Hugs. Hugs! Hugs? Human contact is so crucial to our survival that babies who are not touched, hugged, or cuddled enough are commonly considered infants with a failure to thrive. It’s the cruelest form of neglect I can think of when it’s one of the easiest things to give. A simple hug to reassure another human or creature that they are not alone in this world. I warm, compassionate, loving moment that gives them a place of safe haven if only for the time of the hug. It’s a transcendent feeling for me when I am allowed access into someone’s personal bubble to give them love. It makes my eyes well up with tears to think of the beauty I find when I’m granted that permission. I love hugs. We should hug more often.

Light

I’m told that I bring light. When I was born my mother knew something I didn’t. My birth name is sealed away but I will confess to you that name out of reasonable disclosure. My name was Helen Elaine. I was named for two very important people in my mother’s life that brought her light. Both names have the same meaning of Light. I kid you not.

I changed my name legally in 1996, after my Gram passed away, to Marilyn. Nobody ever calls me that. I’ve always been called Mare since I disclosed my desire. My birth name always felt like someone else’s shoes. It didn’t fit me. It was an unruly unfashionable clunker of a name that hid far more darkness than a name should. I didn’t change it out of spite. I changed it out of self-preservation.

With the advent of Mare Martell (Martell is my birth name and although I abhor the man who handed it down, he will not win. I will honor COLEMAN under the banner), I was given rare opportunity to reinvent myself. Only, it’s not rare. Anyone can choose to bring the light. Anyone can shine but most choose not to. They let people like me do it and I’m okay with that. I’ll bring my light from my darkness. Mare, yes I’m speaking third person, can be anyone I need her to be. THAT is my light. She’s a brilliant chameleon and I love her dearly.

And that is my summation of my 17, 167.4 days around the sun. Thank you for making it through. Love, Light, Blessings of Peace,

Mare Martell

TRIGGER WARNING! How long will you stay? DV/SA

The story I’m about to share with you is intense in emotion, digs into some really dark corners that many keep locked and heavily guarded. I am not opening the door with the spotlight shining in to require pity, request comfort, nor to have anyone claim, “Bless her heart.” I am shining the light into my darkness so that, hopefully, my flashlight can reach someone who feels betrayed, solitary in their suffering, shameful, or guilt-ridden. I end this first paragraph with this:

IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. I BELIEVE YOU.

The month of April is Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence awareness month. For those of us who have survived through these violent crimes, it’s an important month to help educate others about the necessary resources to protect ones physical, mental, and emotional self, commonly without financial ability to pay due to the clandestine fleeing that can be crucial to becoming a survivor and not a victim.

I’m not going to spout statistics, or at least not a lot of them, because those are just numbers. I want to share with you my face.

meage6This is a picture of me at around age six. By the time this picture was taken, I was already quite skilled in how to be the twisted version of the good daughter. I had secrets I couldn’t tell to anyone or my mom and my brother would be killed. I already understood that I was good for one thing. I was so carefully bred to be a victim, I never associated (even up until about six weeks ago) myself with that word or with the fact that things that happened were violent crimes against my person. I just felt like I’d survived, my mom and brother were still alive, life was good.

When I’d reached age 21, I was in full blown PTSD (non-combat trauma). When I read off the symptoms back then I sincerely believed that someone had been following me around writing my every move. It was terrifying to realize that other people had gone through the same thing. It was even more petrifying to realize that it happened to me. Denial is a vicious place to live.

After intensive in-patient treatment, several years of intensive outpatient, and then several MORE years of follow up (as needed) therapy, I feel comfortable and confident in saying that I’m on the other side of PTSD with minimal triggers. It took me 40 years of hard work (30 years actively) to get through the shame, the guilt, the depression, the feelings of being unworthy that were planted from the time I was very young.

The way that I identified myself changing from a total sexual being into a loving human being took devotion, courage, strength, guidance, and determination. It was a life or death battle that left me weary, broken, bloody, and sometimes hanging on by a thread of the Fates. But, as my matriarchs taught me, whether by grace or design, to thrive is the best testament to victory over that which demanded submission.

I ask you this question:

How long does it take before you say enough of a bad relationship? How far will you allow the violence against you to continue before you fight back? How much will have to be stripped of your personal dignity before you look around and say, “I can do better. WE can do better.”

I say, the time is now. Tomorrow may be too late to save one more girl from rape. Tomorrow may be too late to rescue one more child from starvation. Today. This is what we have. Join me, humans, in rescuing ourselves from one of the greatest tragedies and the source of our joint suffering, the lack of equality between genders in the name of LOVE, for the purpose of LOVE, with the intent of LOVE brought into action.

If we do not stand together as the majority population and demand equality, then we fail our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers, our daughters, our children, our humanity. Men that wish equality are those we should cherish, nurture, encourage to defend, but never to rescue us. You can’t expect those who wish to keep us under their heel in the name of religious or political beliefs to release us from slavery (as the article this was inspired by) stated. That’s like allowing a wolf to watch ones sheep or a (JOKE ALERT) police officer to guard a doughnut.

Maya Angelou kept rising despite the anchors that attempted to drown her. So shall I rise whether anyone follows or everyone shies away from the truths. We must move for unity and equality, but for the right reasons, because it’s the right thing to do.