The Black Hole Swallows

You gave to me the end of forever

The taste was bittersweet

Our humble time no longer together

Our lips can’t ever again meet

The black hole has spoken

It’s taken our life

Just a void that is broken

On the edge of a knife

 

I sing for the afternoon that we met

The sun barely shining, we wept as it set

We crawled in our walking, our first baby steps

While the world spun around us the time

We forgot

To be careful and then

We fell to our deaths, in love

To the end

of us.

My Mother’s Day

I used to have a son. He didn’t die nor get physically ill lingering in a hospital. He just walked away. The story of how he came to be in my life is as intense now as when he first appeared 21 years ago next month in a phone call from a liar.

Matt winning awards for his academics and a scholarship

Matt winning awards for his academics and a scholarship

I hear the words, “Keep a stiff upper lip” ringing in my ears, maintaining my distance from the heartbreak I feel and felt.

Before he was born, I longed for him to come home to me. I created the “perfect” nursery in Looney Tunes theme. I filled the dresser and changing table with all the necessities. I made curtains, blankets, and diapers. I can’t sew, but I did because those were straight lines. I put up soft lighting, filled the room with whimsical pictures and loving thoughts.

I’d done the chlomid and pergonal to no avail. I’d taken my temperature faithfully every morning. I’d resolved to adopt a child. I resolved to adopt THIS child. I went to every doctor’s appointment with his birth mother, my step-sister (sister=same difference). When she was about 5-6 months along she was burned out of her apartment by her neighbor’s murderers. My church, at the time, put together a care package of clothes and cash which I brought to her to help her rebuild. She got really sick towards the end of her January due date. The plan was for me to stay with her until the baby was born.

Lies were told to she and I which kept us distanced just far enough to not realize it. A week before my “son” was to be born, my sister called me as I walked in the door from picking up the temporary custody with intention to adopt papers up from our attorney.

“Hey, uh, we need to talk but I don’t know how to say this.” She sadly said.

“Whatever it is, just say it and we’ll work through it together.” I commented as I unloaded my purse, my coat, my manila folder holding the precious promise. “Hold on a second while I finish getting in the door.” My intention was to finish loading up the car and head from Northern Indiana in Lake Station to drive to Knoxville, TN.

“Mare, I don’t know what to do.”

“It’s okay. Really, we’ll work through it. What’s on your mind?” I asked as I prepared to sit down on my couch.

“I’ve decided to keep the baby.” She whispered but the words I heard were deafening.
“What?” I asked as I held the phone away from my ear.

I was positive the phone had turned into a cobra that was striking viciously at me. I couldn’t hear anything but the tremendous amount of grief that broke me in two. I fell to the ground with my hands held above my head in complete surrender. Every pore of my body screamed the words of my soul to the Universe. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t take anything into my body. I couldn’t accept anything with any clarity because it was all nonsense. It was absolute void as everything I’d ever tried to become collapsed upon itself in a tumble of hopes, dreams, ambitions, goals, promises, vows, and possibilities vanished in six words. Poof. Absence.

Less then three months later, my good friend Jamie K Haley was murdered. I was completely lost in the bottom of a bottle. I couldn’t find my way out. I couldn’t drown the feelings fast enough or deep enough to have any success which, of course, didn’t stop me from trying. My friends intervened, forcing me to choose them or death. I opted to live. For the longest time, I had no idea why I made that choice. When I say that, I mean twelve years of bad choices and horrible decisions that continuously punished me for my failure.

Thanksgiving 2004, after the death of my father’s wife (Truthfully a horrid person, judge me if you want to about that, but it is not only my perception), I was passing through to pick up my best friend’s boyfriend to return him to her in Arizona where I resided with my husband. I stopped off in Tennessee to visit.

My father explained that he was getting too old to take care of a twelve year old boy. He wanted to know if I’d consider moving closer to build a relationship with the boy because, “My health isn’t all that great and he’ll need someone to take care of him that he knows when I die.” That sounded fair and logical. I said I’d consider it.

That twelve year old boy (nearly 13 at that point) was the same child that had been denied me in 1995. That was the same child that I’d dreamed of holding, comforting, crying over, teaching, feeding, healing, reading to, guiding, exploring the world with. That child was the manifestation of my heart. Okay, that sounds like I may have romanticized it a tad (YES! I know, a LOT!) but before I go any farther in the story, go ahead and guess what my choice was…I didn’t even finish that sentence before you knew. Yes. I did in fact go back and talk to my husband about moving to Tennessee.

Plans were made. My job as a radio DJ/personality/head copy writer got more complicated then it had ever been before, everything in my Arizona life pushed me towards a new life. I complied. In February of 2005, right after the boy’s 13th birthday, my best friend, her boyfriend, and myself were driven across the country by Charles Tupper and his son to live at my father’s house. My husband was supposed to join us later (which is a whole different story).

It didn’t take long before things were found to be amiss. The boy didn’t fit very well. He was skittish. Time passed, I divorced my Arizona husband, moved about finally landing in Oak Ridge with my joyfriend/current husband. In March of 2010, the young man came to live with me by court order because of the neglect and violent abuse he’d suffered at the hands of my father and his new girlfriend.

This is his story told to me by him, written by me to create a more gentle version of a vicious life:

Becoming Human

I was born abandoned. According to legend, I was either brought to my grandparent’s tattered life. Or I was saved from the state by them as a last resort; rescued from the hospital.

I had a brother, also known as God to Jack who was my grandfather. My brother was his everything but he was taken away by the courts. My uncle was murdered by fringe family members and my grandmother who died of Cancer. They were all gone by the time I was eleven, except for the worst one, Jack.

I didn’t get to say any goodbyes. The pain became my normal. It was the only thing that was real and tangible. I had nowhere to go and that’s right where I thought I was going.

Nobody heard me. Nobody stopped me. Nobody recognized me. Caine was gone and I was all that was left.

I became, over time, a non-entity. Nobody cared to listen to what I thought or felt.

My house was never silent. Rage filled the air with compulsive shrieks and blistering names that still sting. Jack and I had no quiet conversations at the dinner table. There were no jokes told. The questions that I had, of my losses, went unanswered.

Three weeks after my grandmother died, Jack moved Val into our house. Things became very different. At night, Jack gave me vodka and Val gave me beer to put me to sleep. It wasn’t long before Val started sneaking into my room and the nightly abuse began. In an attempt to protect myself, I slept in a bed of knives and swords that I’d collected. It didn’t work.

I screamed out to be saved, but Jack never came. I tried fighting against her, but my drunken youthful self wasn’t yet strong enough. I told myself it was all a dream. Nobody heard me. Nobody stopped what was happening to me. Nobody saw me. My family was gone and I was all that was left.

Boys I called my friends began to ask me to do things that I didn’t understand but soon learned. I became an object to be used.

Huffhead was the worst offender. He called me his friend and I called him mine. But I always returned to him. Even knowing that nothing I did for him was ever good enough, I returned. He always demanded more and more from me. No matter how he abused me, I accepted it. The abuse was normal. I’d learned my lessons well. I was so desperate for his “friendship” that I returned to him time and again. I didn’t deserve to feel good. I didn’t feel worthy of kindness or love. I didn’t know this wasn’t okay. How I was living was my normal.

The threat of losing another person was too much. I had no choice. I lost my identity and gave up control of myself. I deserved it. I no longer smiled because I didn’t deserve to feel good. I felt guilty about my basic needs. I felt shame for eating, drinking, using the bathroom, smiling, laughing, joking. In other words, the thought of me being considered a human was enough to make me cringe. Everything and anything I did was constantly criticized. I was never good enough. I wasn’t my brother and Jack reminded me of this daily. Jack called me so many bad names that it caught me off guard, sounded alien, when he said the name given to me at my birth.

I developed into an isolated zombie. Not the kind you see in the movies, but just as much of a non-human. I was an object who didn’t object to the abuse. I lived to serve in any capacity.                                                                                                     I screamed, “I HATE YOU!” in my mind. Nobody heard me. Nobody stopped me. Nobody recognized me. I was gone. Yet I was all that was left.

I started hearing voices after my brother was taken. Sometimes they’d get so loud that my mouth would speak their words. My body was no longer my own. The voices became people that walked, talked, and acted differently while using my body. That’s when the forgotten times began.

I woke up in the strangest of places; in a driveway during a winter storm, in a shed, in a storm drain, in a different state all together. I began to lose hours and days worth of time. People would come up to me on the street acting like they knew me, calling me by different names. I didn’t let on that I had no idea who they were. Time no longer had meaning because I lost so much of it so often.

I didn’t realize I was a human being. I was so detached from reality that nothing seemed real. I tried sleeping for a year so I wouldn’t have to feel what little seeped through the drugs I’d started doing. I’d mastered, as I was taught, to turn pain off like a light switch that kept turning itself back on.

When I turned fifteen, my screams were loud enough to be heard by the courts. I got in trouble with the law twice in two months. I went to court to accept my fate with Jack and his daughter. She was a woman that Jack called a lying, controlling, bulldozer that ripped him off. I despised her at his word. After all was said and done, I was placed in Jack’s daughter’s custody.

In the three years that I’ve been with her, I’ve learned what it’s like to be happy. I am grateful that the courts finally heard me. I’m glad the judge stopped what was happening to me. I’m glad that they finally saw me. I finally earned my freedom and another life to learn. Somebody heard me. Somebody helped me. Somebody recognized me. My success is all that’s left.

2014

In August of 2014, he disappeared. My husband and I went to work, came home, and he was gone. He didn’t say goodbye. He didn’t say anything. Like the phone call so many years before, he’d decided to keep the baby.

I see Facebook flooded with wishes of goodwill towards mothers. I do not resent or feel anger towards anyone who is a mother. I do not feel jealousy or unkind thoughts towards that are successful. I feel like a liar and outsider when it is wished to me. That chapter of my life is the most painful I’ve ever endured of which I have no control or power over in any way shape or form. It is my deepest grief and my truest human moment that I cherish because at least I got to understand, be, and for a short while, know the joy a parent feels.

George gets burned

My young neighbors, George and Gracie. I love them.

My young neighbors, George and Gracie. I love them.

I stepped out my front door into the spring weather with the bite of winter nipping my skin, still hanging on to hope that it will last. George sat shoulder slumped on the concrete wall. He lifted his feet as Pumpkin the ever terrorizing Chihuahua let him know in no uncertain terms what she thought about his morose. As I tugged the yapping pup along beside the tubby pup, George hollered at me, “Mayor? I think I need one of those hugs when you put the dogs back inside.”

I nodded and smiled apologetically as Pumpkin continued her tirade against the world, Piggy chugging along beside her. Duties all done and accounted for, I placed the still overly verbose Pumpkin inside calling for the older canine to come. After a deep breath for some muffling on the shrill bark, I opened my arms and George ran around to accept the hug.

“What pain is on your brain?” I inquired as he broke the hug and dribbled to the ground in his pajama pants.

“We’re going to have to move again.” He explained. “It’ll be cool and all because we’ll have a pond, but I really wish we could stay this time.”

“Why do you have to go?” I asked. “I’m going to really miss you.”

“We can’t pay the rent any more.” He said like it was a litany he’d become accustomed to. It hurt to watch him curl up, knees to chest, tugging his hood over his face.

“What are you doing?” I asked glancing the parking lot to notice a Rent-An-Expensive Couch van pull into the broken parking lot.

“I’m hiding from them.” He said in a hushed tone.

“Why?” I prodded him further. Yes, as an adult, I’m hyper aware of debts, payments, bill collectors, and even rent-expensive-cheap stuff places. I shouldn’t ask because it’s none of my business, but I really like George and Gracie.

“They’re here to take away our couches. My mama said just to let them take the furniture already, but the babysitter won’t do it. We get woke up because they come too early in the morning and we hide so they don’t know we’re there.” He sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders. “I won’t have a place to sleep if they get in.”

“I’m sorry you’re experiencing that, George. If I could help you, I would. I don’t have any dollars either.” I leaned on my cane and watched the eight-year-old American boy hide his shame.

“Mayor? Can I ask you a question?” He pushed back his hood when the truck started to back out of the parking lot having not retrieved the sofas. I nodded ascent. “What did you mean when you said black lives matter? I’ve never heard a white woman say that before.”

I winced. George has a way of speaking his thoughts and ideas that, quite honestly, I haven’t seen in a child in a very long time. “It means to me that we are all human and should be equal, but we’re not. I protest against those people who want to keep us different because I don’t believe that’s just.”

“People don’t like me.” He confessed. Like a true questioner, I asked, “Why not?”

“Because I’m mixed.” He said pulling his hood back over his face. Then in a voice that is small, nearly broken, very fragile, he shares something so tragic it made me weep. “Sometimes,” He stated ever so softly. “I feel like I’m a mistake. Like I wasn’t meant to be here.” And he covered his face with his hood completely obscuring his beautiful honest face.

I had to breathe deeply because the mixture of anger, sadness, compassion, and longing to ease his suffering were so strong, I got the wellies.

“George, please stand up.” I asked gently. He complied and I took each of his shoulders in my hands and leveled myself with his true green eyes. “I need you to understand something, believe it and feel it deep in your heart, do you understand that?” He nodded so I continued. “You my beautiful perfect human friend are never, no matter what anyone else in this world tells you, are NEVER a mistake. You are a bridge between the two. You are a leader with an extraordinary gift for storytelling. You ARE the future of peace in this world. Do you understand what I mean?” I felt completely intent with my purpose. He looked up at me with such an open comprehension that I felt like I was looking into something way bigger than he or I.

“I understand. But people…” He started to say when I interrupted him.

“People can be nasty, vicious creatures, but so can they be humans who don’t understand the differences. Black lives matter because ALL lives matter. You are so important to me and to your sister and your family. Even if they say hateful words, they always, like me, will love you. Black lives matter, George, because you think I’m better than you because I’m white. I promise you, my beautiful friend, we are equals in spirit. We are equals as physical beings. Just because we have different melanin doesn’t…”

“What’s melanin?” He interrupted me.

“It’s what makes your skin darker than mine and because I have less, I’m more pale than you are.” I explained.

“That’s it? That’s what’s different?” He looked at me incredulously. I nodded my head. “Well that’s just plain stupid.”

“George, my friend, I couldn’t agree with you more. Want a cupcake?”

“After another hug?” He asked, his eyes no longer filled with tears.

“Absolutely. We’ll break bread together.” He grinned back at me as I went and got two applesauce cupcakes topped with green holiday frosting. We sat in the spring sun feeling the icy breeze sharing each others company, heart to heart, spirit to spirit.

“Old Time” and “Squeezy”

I’ve met him before in this life. Just a brief interaction with my friend’s son with nothing spectacular to mention. But today was different. Today we recognized each other’s spirits to the point where we talked about things we couldn’t possibly have experienced now. Forgive, but indulge my recollection of my brief time in VietNam before I was killed by a brother triggered trip wire.

I was a Captain, he my lieutenant. We were working on an engineering project together when the explosions started. The initial shock blew out half the buildings barracks. We lost 12 men from that. One of them men we called “Mustard” razzed me and Old Time, my best friend, calling us brother and sister. They called me Squeezy because I snored loud enough they’d have to keep covering my head with my blanket to dull the sound which made me wheeze.

From the room we were working in, we could see J-Pod and Durkee run by with their rifles down. Durkee smoked as much as he could get his hands on so I’d give him mine, so would Old Time. I watched the packs lined up like carnival ducks on his helmet fly by the window.

“Okay, Old Time. We have to pack. Drop down.” I commanded as I scrambled to get my responsibility packaged into my trekker.

“I’m almost there, Squeezy. I don’t want to mess this connection. A few more minutes.” He half answered me.

“Look, Durk and J-Pod just ran by with rifles down. We don’t have a couple minutes. Pack up, now.” I commanded finishing my assembly. I rushed over to his station and started packing his gear. “Pack up. Drop down.”

“And, got it.” He said, pushing back from the table.

I realized he hadn’t even been aware of the sounds or the smells from the burning buildings until he pushed away. Realizing the gravity, he grabbed his gear and helped me fill his bag with the essentials.

“Shit, I didn’t realize…” His voice was blasted out by a shell that hit the north side of the building exploding concrete and glass into our work space. “Squeeze, you’re bleeding.” He said as he crawled from under the table where he’d ducked down. I wasn’t as quick as he was, my head was bleeding almost as much as my right shoulder which still had a sizeable shard of glass sticking out of it. He leaned over, assessed the wound, and pulled the glass clean out. “Let me help you Squeezy.”

I nodded as he jacked his pack onto his back and helped me get into mine. The strap helped ease the bleeding in my shoulder but my head was starting to swim.

“Old Time, I don’t know if I can. My head is swimming.” I protested.

“You look here. I’m not going to lose another brother. Come on.” He dragged me to my feet wrapping his right arm under my uninjured left shoulder. He grunted a bit as he realized I wasn’t moving half my body the right way. “Don’t you worry Squeeze, we’ll get to the rendezvous point.” His face was so close to mine but I was having trouble focusing. I saw him smile at me, but the fear in his eyes was deep.

“GO! GO! GO!” I heard Maxi-Pad yelling. Through the hole in the wall, I watched Max and four others rush by under heavy fire. The only reason I knew it was Maxi-Pad was because of his lilty voice. He sounded more like a woman than any of us, but nobody had the heart of the lion like him. He knew what to do almost instinctively. Although he was only a sergeant, he ran his squad like a true leader. They loved and trusted him in the way only soldiers know. I saw one of his men crumple as Old Time pulled me over the rubble.

With shells exploding around us, Old Time pulled me as I struggled to keep my feet. I knew I wasn’t long for this plane. I had to let him go. I dropped full weight into his arms forcing his release.

“I can’t. I’m done. Just go.” I wheezed as blood filled my lungs. I could barely catch a breath. My blood was pumping so fast. “I’ll have your back.” I said as I tugged my side arm from the holster.

Old Time got damn near nose to nose with me. His dark brown eyes, filled with fear also held the promise of truth in them. He grabbed my face with both of his hands.

“You sorry son of a bitch. Get up and get moving right now. Loretta would never forgive me. Get up now.” He smacked my face hard with both hands. I hate when he does that.

I struggled up to my feet. My head was swimming, my ears could no longer hear the rifle fire, just the steady pulse and a high pitched squeal of my blood running out of my body too fast. I allowed him to lift me up enough for me to use my last bit of will to move my feet towards the dense jungle just a few more steps in front of us.

He shoved the branches back, never losing grip on me as we disappeared into the heavy smell of acrid gunpowder and sloshed our feet into the barely dried ground after monsoon season. We struggled through the dense fauna, him holding on to me, me desperate to follow his commands because to disobey my inferiors command was to die.

When the wire tripped, there was barely enough time for him to turn and look me in the eye as we both breathed our last breath from the explosion. We died that day, buddy next to buddy. His left arm gone, his right arm still holding me protectively.

I met him again today in this life. He saw me and said, “Sister!” He grinned from ear to ear. “I knew I’d see you again. Man, it’s been a while.”

“As with you, my brother. I’m glad to see you again. Thanks for helping me. You did all you could. I hope you know that.”

“I will never forget it. You still owe me $5 bucks.” He laughed referring to the ongoing penny cribbage we played when we weren’t working.

“You’re not going to get it this time or that time either.” I laughed. I realized that we had to give that life up to meet again in this one. I understood right then, that we really were brother and sister of spirit.”

He’s still interested in electronic projects in this life time. I think that’s because he never quite finished that damn project in the last one. It really amazes me the details I could remember when my spirit saw him. It happens from time to time where I just know people. I’ll call him Old Time when next we meet and I’ll bet he’ll call me Squeezy.

Letter to a Woman

I wrote the original of this in January 2014. I’m pretty sure it was because I was encouraging someone to think differently. Here is a repeat performance as we enter into bikini season, as the fashion bullshit-o-meter calls it.

Ruby the Bodyworks beauty

Ruby the Bodyworks beauty

Dear Human,

I am reading your posts about someone(s)calling you fat. In our society where a size zero is revered and anything over that is overweight, it’s so easy…so, so easy to think that you’re nothing unless you meet that standard. People, as a whole, don’t care if it leaves you crying when they call you fat. They don’t care if you’ve lost 100 pounds and are still working towards the goal. If you’re not the societal warped version of a body, then you’re a nothing, not a zero because that would be skinny, but a nothing.

When I was young, I was not thin, but I was womanly in my curves. I had a relatively flat stomach until I was 22 when my body flipped me the bird and gained 100 pounds in six months. I felt horrible all the time. Just seeing myself in the mirror would bring me to tears and eventually, I just quit looking. It was too painful and awkward.

At 26, I realized I was dramatically unhealthy. Not just fat, but unhealthy. I went vegetarian and worked out every day for 3 months and went from 256lbs to 159. I kept that weight off for two years, minimal effort, and although I fluctuated a few pounds here and there, I kept my exercise and diet plan clean and clear.

In 1999, I was raped. Unfortunately, that happened to coincide with my thyroid going bat shit crazy and I gained all but 20 pounds of the weight I’d worked so hard to lose. I was back up in the 230’s…high end. With stress eating and hormones flying around like the Wizard of Oz monkey’s, I got suicidally depressed.

2005 rolled around and I moved to TN with my best friend and her boyfriend to live at my father’s house. I had to eat at restaurants for the next two years, and although my weight stayed in the 230’s, I wasn’t really happy. I could look at myself in the mirror, but I constantly tore myself apart. If my boobs didn’t sag. If my butt had a shape other than pancake. If my arms didn’t have bat wings. If my belly didn’t make me look like the Michelin man. So many things I couldn’t like about my body. I further admit that I read celebrity gossip rags religiously and loved the way their bodies looked and dreamed of being like them.

And just like my use of drugs when I was in my late teens, I just woke up one day and said, no more. At first that little voice, that constantly criticized me and told me I was fat, ugly, unworthy, un-loveable, etc. was so loud it made it hard to hear anything else. But, every time I’d hear that voice (whether internal or external) I’d reassure myself that I am okay.

After a while, it became second nature. I replaced all of the bad things I used to tell myself and have told to me, with positive things. I can walk. I can touch my toes. I can breathe. I can do a push-up. I can work harder than most people. I am rather attractive. I am kind.I am compassionate. I’m a helper. I’m a giver. I’m appreciated. I am worthy. I am loved. And the body issues, for me, fell away like the weight so evident on my thighs.

I want you to know that I share this with you because you ARE beautiful. Even with me saying kind things, NEVER believe anyone but yourself. Trust your instincts, ignore everyone else’s opinions because in the end, you’re the only person responsible for your own happiness and the only one you’ll have in your life 24/7/365 until your last day on this plane. You’re wonderful. I guarantee that. You’re compassionate.I’ve seen it. You’re a kind woman to everyone. You’re a great mother and a good wife. I’ve watched you. You’re a devoted friend with a kind heart. Love yourself enough that anyone who objects to your value, clearly doesn’t know your worth.

Sincerely,

Mare, the first wonder twin, Martell

Absence of Gram

On March 13th, 1996 at 1:13AM, Beverly Jordan passed from this world through the veil. This is to share and honor her because I have no children of my own to pass these stories down to and someone like her should never be forgotten.

Most people would start a story from the beginning, but I think her ending is by far one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever had the right to witness.

I had been up for a very long time sitting with the Martell’s at the hospital in Grand Haven (could have been Muskegon), Michigan. Gram’s beautiful brown eyes had been glazed with a sheath of white that took her vision from this world and shifted it to the next. Her mouth gaped open as if in astonishment but there were no surprises left. A machine honked and whispered breath to her reminding us all that time was an outlet away.

The newspaper my Grandpa Pat had brought in rested on the arm of the single chair that sat in the corner. I kept watch while the others went to make phone calls, rested, or grabbed some food. I picked up the paper which I read aloud. I listened to the whirs clicking moments away. I said softly after I finished a front page story that seems, even now, to be irrelevant, “Gram, you know I love you so very much. You told me the story of your heart surgery. Do you remember that?” I adjusted my seat. “You told me how you hovered above your body and you talked to God.”

“Gram, you told me that you said to him, “God, if it’s my time to go, that’s fine. I’m ready. But if you have things for me to do, let me get back to it already. I can’t do anything for my family if I’m not here any more. I’ll obey.” Do you remember telling me that story?” I stood up and laid the paper down. I walked over to her bedside and pulled her cold paper hand into my own.

“When I needed you a few months after that, you were there for me. You took me in and sheltered me. You treated me not as if I’d made a mistake but that I’d recover. You wouldn’t allow me to wallow. You gave me my life back. I got to see you in a way I never thought I would be able to because you gave yourself to me as my friend and mentor. I love you so much. But, Gram, if it is your time, it’s okay. We’ll take care of each other as we always do in our own way. Please don’t think that you have to stay if it’s time. It’s okay to let go and rest now.”

My Uncle Jake, never one for sentiment but always down for a cold beer and some good times, slipped into the room as if he’d been eavesdropping. “Ma. She’s right. You’ve done everything you could do. It’s okay. You can go if it’s your time.”

My cousin Neil, Jake’s second son, walked in just then. “Grandma, it’s okay. I won’t forget what you told me. Nobody will. You can go if you need to. You’ll be missed, but we all understand.”

We stood there silently together listening to the voice of the machines holding her spirit in her physical being. The nurse walked in to make adjustments. Jake grabbed her arm lightly and told her that he’d sign the papers to let her go. The nurse finished what she’d came in to do. Jake left with her. Neil started to cry but made no effort to hide nor wipe his tears. We joined together in our private grief not sharing what we both felt.

Everyone gathered together as the doctor came in and with very little ceremony, pulled the plug. The waiting began.

At about 9PM that night, the family dispersed with me drawing the straw to stay the night. With list of phone numbers tucked in my pocket, instructions to call if anything happened, a huge cup of coffee and a book, I sat in the chair while reading aloud. Her heart rate seemed to increase when I read as did her breathing so I continued. After several hours of another lost name, I needed to use the restroom and get a drink. I told her, kissed her cheek and left the room.

As I was returning, the nurse who had been so kind to my family told me that it wouldn’t be long, I should hurry.

As I entered the room alone, I witnessed a gray misty form fill the other side of the room. Being around my Gram, ghost stories were like talking about the weather, they were just accepted as fact. I saw this one. It was a shapeless mass about the size of a very large, although not tall, human. I could make out a head and arms, but nothing distinguishing. It knelt down and came up through my Gram’s body bearing a light that glowed like a shooting star. A sense of profound peace of mind coupled with a deep unending love filled my heart. I knew, at that moment, God existed. I also knew that she’d gone to the next realm. I kissed her forehead, holding my lips there, grasping her lifeless hand while tears fell warm against her cooling skin.

I whispered that I love her then after one more kiss on her forehead, I released my hold on her physical being to make the necessary calls. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Below is a poem I wrote to honor this woman that brought me to a place of safety when I ran from deadly danger. She granted me safe haven from a toxic destructive marriage. She showed me how to rebuild into a bionic mess and how to start all over again no matter what. Although I don’t cry over her every day any more and I rarely go a day without thinking of her, she is always with me because if she weren’t, I couldn’t share this with you.

I'm not sure when this picture was taken of Gram Bev, but it's one of my very favorites.

I’m not sure when this picture was taken of Gram Bev, but it’s one of my very favorites.

My Grandmother, Beverly Jordan, is the one on the far left. She bred, trained and showed dogs for many years.

My Grandmother, Beverly Jordan, is the one on the far left. She bred, trained and showed dogs for many years.

Absence

There are no ballads written of the life she led.

There are no written records of the many things she said.

There are no monuments standing in Michigan’s icy cold.

There are no places left of hers but the marble growing old.

There are no public holidays where the banks close to honor her.

There are no dates filled with activities in her empty calendar; just blurs.

Still in my heart she sings to me of the lifetime that she led

Of the family lore she told to me at the night time tucked in bed

Her picture remains cherished on my dresser in the honorary place

While I dress into the nightgown she left to me while gazing on her face.

Each March 13th I cherish her, each moment with which I was blessed

All these years seems like eternity since I laid her ashes to rest.

I have failed to keep my promise, to take care of my kin and blood

Rejection by their fallacies have damned the emotional flood

With the strength of her character rising deep from my roots

She knows that our family tree bore much rotten fruit

The witness I bear to you is me giving to remember

So that ancestral love will never die, as she has, to an ember.

Rippled Reflections

He speaks his own language

one filled with nonsense

and fanciful words like “fisticuffs”

He speaks through snippets

short jokes with punctuation

obvious as a war zone

He speaks in varying voices

that change with the characters

telling the story of his truth

He speaks with the stones

but he doesn’t trust them

Their wisdom lost to self-doubt

He speaks with the voice of Kings

ruling the alleyways wearing

tin-foil crowns that are often trampled

secret messages passed through his paranoia

clipping words like newspaper headlines

He speaks of dreams imposed

impressed, imbibed, truly intimate

flourishing in friendly fanatacism

He speaks in questions queried

in response to what he requests

Directness skitters him on a hot skillet

running like a cockroach from the light

He speaks in the symbols of aliens

collected in straight line rainbows

elaborately and tediously assembled

He speaks through the silence of the unforgiven

lost to the world of good will and hope

to the world of dark despair disguised as survival

the foundations built on lies he tells himself

to secure the warmth of a lost memory

that never existed.