Saturday, 26 August 2017

Mothers and daughters

I think this is fitting for today.  I love my mom and am so happy she is here to celebrate this day with as I know others have lost their moms recently. We only all have this day.

We all have one so on some level we all relate to mothers. My mother was my first female influence, my first love. She set the groundwork of all future relationships I was to have with females and males. As a child I looked to my mom for all I needed; love, nurturing, guidance, lessons in how to be female in the world and thus how to love, nurture and guide others. My first memory involves my mom, her telling me in a sweet voice, with love in her heart for me that I still feel on a cellular level, to go see what she had for me in a drawer in my bedroom. It was a red and green stuffed horse she had made for me, a gift to give up my sookie for. I was four years old. What a wonderful first memory to have. My mom gave me advice when I was a young mother. On all she could she offered her wisdom, most I ignored or at worst didn't appreciate, and I always felt welcomed in the home of my youth with my children. To mind comes a time when I was carrying my first child Justin, seven months pregnant, severely depressed and turning 21, she made me come over to her house for my cake when I didn't want to. It was a most beautifully decorated cake with silver beads and buttercream icing. A soothing salve for a suffering mom to be. I have the picture, it both destroys me (to see the pain I went through) and uplifts me (that cake made with love for me). I knew my mom loved me. I still do.

Relationships with mothers can be fraught with angst and emotional land mines, and I believe more so relationships between mothers and daughters. Who else do we need to hear our pleas and have a more heartfelt need for love from, than the first person we had a relationship with - one that started from the moment we as an infant gazed upon them at our birth? Who do we need to understand and accept us more than our mothers? I feel home when my mom understands and gets me, when she has heard me and accepts who I am unconditionally.  I have more and more moments like this with my mom now that I am approaching a time when I realize my mom will not be around forever anymore - like I once used to pray for as a little child.  As I face my mom's mortality, as we both age, I clutch onto these little gem connections, these moments that touch my heart. She does not know this is happening, most times I remain silent taking it in, not disturbing the feeling with words unable to express it's relevance. She does not know that my consciousness just filed away a little piece of her for safe keeping, for when I will need it after she is gone. I am relieved the hard times are over between us, those times we were apart, those times I didn't appreciate her sacrifices and love for me.

Life being one of those full circle kind of things, as a mom myself I have seen the look of love on my girls faces when I "get them" that instant well of tears, that hitch in the heart and the look of acknowledgement between our eyes that connects. For me it is a connecting of that infant child bond from way back when I carried their soul in mine like a beautiful secret.  These connections usually happen over little things, a phrase, a hug, a small gesture of help. These sweet spots of life that keep mother and daughter relationships strong and deep, I treasure as much as the ones between me and my own mom. I have also seen the pain and hurt on their faces, in their eyes when I miss the mark and that bond is temporarily broken. Last night my daughter mentioned something in passing about what she hoped for and needed from me and did not get, it felt like my heart was shredding.  She does not know this feeling because she is not a mother, she without the responsibility and burden of a charge, knows not what I felt. Again I could not express my sorrow enough, so I remained silent. Instead I take these lessons in and hold them close hopeful I can move forward without failing her again.

As a daughter I have spent much of my life trying to break from the mother daughter bond and become an independent being. The love hate struggle that peaks in teenage years, settles in midlife and comes around to it's beginnings when I see her age and I start to mother her now. As a mother, I now watch my daughters doing it, the dance of pull and push, grasp and release. I yearn to do it all correctly yet all the while not knowing what is correct. Do I grasp or do I let go?  I grieve for the sorrow my daughters go through, their pain I feel, it keeps me awake tossing at night. I want to make it right for them to prevent them from feeling the bad and I cannot. They will have to find their way in their own time, me the watcher. I am present but removed in that I can't make them learn a lesson they have to learn, here mine being the lesson of restraint. It is painful to watch, like the mother duck I saw online waiting for her ducklings to be rescued from a storm drain, powerless to pull them out of the swirl. I can only hold when they want to be held, enfold my arms around them and kiss their foreheads tell them I love them, I am here, I will help.

Today in this strange land of mother daughter bonds I find my footsteps retracing from her to them, from them to me and back to her again.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Where will you be in 5 years?

That standard question that gets asked on interviews, well maybe not anymore due to the present workforce being so fluid and mobile, do employers still expect them to be around in 5 years, let alone increasing in their industriousness, production and ambition? I always figured that was the reason they asked the question, to kinda test is this a keeper or not, one who can see the big picture, who is all in and there for the long haul. I wonder if they still ask it? Sounds like it would be pretty easy to answer; just throw around something like you see yourself in 5 years as “expert in the field you are applying for”, maybe tell them you are planning on a Master’s degree in that area to enhance what you can give to and do for the company etc. yadda yadda. It has been a long time since I have been asked that question, but I was asked it on my job interview many years ago. I did say a master’s degree and I did get it - it took 7 years, (so sue me I was two years late). I am not the ambitious type, not in my work life, I am a follower not a leader. That is okay, we all have our strengths. But I do commit to the long haul, being an "all in" kinda girl I have been at NShealth for 20 years.

I love asking myself this question about my personal life. When I do it helps me to gauge where I am at in my life’s journey. Sometimes I have answered, “no fucking where that’s where” and shut that little questioner in me down bloody quick. That is usually when I see no hope for my future or I don’t want to look at it. After a death you feel this, it’s just way too painful to look beyond the seconds and the minutes of unbearable grief and it takes much time to heal enough to be able to look into the future, especially years into the future. But I have been asking myself this question lately. Where do you see yourself in 5 years Sussey? So I think about my answer. Today I feel pretty confident in the answers I would give me the interviewer, but as I know life is in a constant state of flux and tomorrow I may have to come up with a whole new set of answers. Currently, here a few things I do see about where I will be in 5 years.

I will be retired, I will not be working the ole 8-4 anymore. Oh I’m way too young to not work, it just won’t be this work. It will be working my creativity – writing, photography and who knows what else I will love to do that is new and creative, but I will be working on that. (sometimes for pay so I can take those skills into the Tuscan countryside once a year). Yes I can accomplish this in 5 years, sure I can.

I will still have my Pax. I take care of him well with his food and medical checkups, he’ll only be 10. He will be a little slower getting the Frisbee, graying around the whiskers but he’ll still be laying around on his bed and mine in those weird contortions he puts his furry body into and making me laugh. I think I have 5 more years to be able to give him lots of my love. I see that.

Spending time at my cottage by the sea, my serenity acre. The space all finished and inviting and warm and beautiful with breezy afternoons to feel the ocean and sparkling water to gaze upon. My hard work today will pay off over these next 5 years as I sit and sleep and enjoy my time with my wonderful friends at that special space. It’s a big part of where I am going to be over the next 5 years for sure.

I will enjoy cooking and be able to do it for myself. I will eat right, I will feel like I deserve to. I will feel a comfort in the kitchen that I have not felt in many many years. I won’t be afraid to get groceries. (I notice I am not expanding on this one??) It may be the one I fudge on in the interview.

I will be with someone who loves me and whom I can love. This is a new and pleasing thought to have, I don’t know how or when this will happen but hey I’m gonna put it out there. I deserve love and have lots to offer so why the fuck not. I guess just thinking about being in this place when the 5 years from now question is asked, is growth, because after Terry died, I always saw myself well into late life having to live it alone and lonely. I don’t believe that anymore. I can have a lasting love. I can do this (sans fucking POF) in the next 5 years, sure I can.

I will be able to accept loss, disappointment, pain and hardships (both my past and future ones) much easier 5 years from now. Having been there done that and got the sweatshirt, pants and winter coat, I am learning. There is much more to learn over the next 5 years I am sure but, I seem to be a wide open pupil in this area, so I know the acceptance of this only becomes easier. In fact, sometimes I amaze myself at how calmly I can accept big disappointment and pain now. I also see myself 5 years wiser in 5 years. In this area we don’t go backwards, only forward. I believe that. Wisdom, that lovely gift of age, will be mine. I have earned it.

I’d hire her.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

While I'm on about a song..... this one

 This is how it goes:
"I got the call today that I didn't want to hear but I knew that it would come" (and immediately I am transported to my living room on the phone, bright white snowy late march, "his c19 markers are way up, this is pancreatic cancer, and from the clinical picture you've described far advanced... I've ordered a cat scan for today".... it is always there  that trauma now a part of my cells my brain my body conjured up with tears through a verse)

"And I thought of all the bad luck and struggles we went through, how I lost me, and you lost you, what are these voices outside love's open door, make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more"  (Our bad luck and struggles are over, we can't reap the benefits only I am left to and I am sorry, but yes I do beg for more, it is part of life, it goes on, life has nothing more to offer than change... it our constant to rely on. Our commitments run their course, voices beckon outside love's door -  for what? Other love, other struggles of course)

"I'm learning to live without you now, but I miss you sometimes, the more I know, the less I understand, all the things I thought I knew I'm learning again" (miss you? miss you sometimes? How do I ever learn to live with this loss when I had no idea it could be so sharpe so cutting so all encompassing....but I have and I understand less and less how it just happens. And I learn to breath, and move and dress and sleep and eat and be without you, I learn to walk in baby steps out my door to work, still I don't understand. Instead I know nothing, I'm learning again, I wait for the lesson, some days I even welcome it, look for it, ask it to come, it does not mean I never loved you, it just means you are not here to love anymore)

"Ah these times are so uncertain, there's a yearning undefined, and people filled with rage, we all need a little tenderness, how can love survive in such a graceless age? Ah, the trust and self assurance that lead to happiness, they're the very things we kill I guess" (and I had my chance, my trust and self assurance in happiness that ended, is it my only chance? I have more love to give, and happiness to feel- with this I know how to live because you taught me, because I thought I knew and I didn't and now this yearning is defined - that love does survive in a graceless age because yes we all do need a little tenderness, it does not mean I never loved you, it just means you are not here to love anymore)

"there are people in your life who've come and gone, they let you down, you know they hurt your pride, you better put it all behind you baby, cause life goes on, you keep carrying that anger it will eat you up inside baby" ( you taught me love, it was hard to put away the anger, always the anger eating me up inside, but you taught me baby to put it all aside, and now it is, there is no use for it because life does go on  and you can live it or you can die it. And I want to live it, in the love you taught not the anger I carried, so this you did, and this I have)

"I've been trying to get down, to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter, but I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness, even if, even if, you don't love me anymore". (And I have oh, I have done everything to get to the heart of the matter and I know it is I know it is forgiveness yes .... for myself ... that I was weak, that I failed, that I didn't see soon enough, love you enough, give enough, be there for you enough. But I know forgive forgive forgive  even if in doing that you don't love me anymore. Forgiveness. Because to forgive me does not mean I never loved you, it just means you are not here to ask for forgiveness from anymore)

I want to hold these hands again, and tell you I am sorry and feel them forgive me- even if we can't love each other anymore. If I let go into this especially even if you can't love me anymore - but I can -there is forgiveness.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

I loved you in the best way possible

This picture would never have happened had Terry and I not met, these are our offspring, the product of our love. The joys that will last past him. You can't take that away. These beautiful human beings who will and do bring joy to others as they do for me and had for him. It reminds me of a verse from Killing me Softly, the famous song by Roberta Flack, which was Terry and mine's song when we first met.

"And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last 'till the end of time my love
And it would last 'till the end of time"

It will go on- our love.

You can't see it in this picture but he was sick here. I believe and know it in my heart. This is October 2013. He had lost a lot of weight unexpectedly, I figured it was the daily gym workouts finally paying off. But there were other signs. Previous to this he had gone through a bout of loss of appetite (it rallied at Christmas) he was going to the bathroom more than usual, early pancreatic cancer presents as symptoms of diabetes. I remember getting mad at him for needing so many restroom stops. I remember him telling me about some routine blood work he had done and the results showing elevated sugars. I thought that is weird, told him well is the doc going to monitor it? Then I let it go. I could not put all these pieces together. Not till much later. The horrible stuff that I wrote out and can't share yet.

I wonder do marriages live and die by crisis? By that I mean does marriage either continue or not when the shit starts to hit the fan, and that maybe this is the true thrashing ground for relationships- not love? Terry and I were only one year into our marriage when our first born son died of SIDS. There was a moment, I remember it clear as a bell when we were driving to a friends house, I said something that triggered him and in the middle of the highway, going at quite a clip I might add, he slammed on his brakes and turned the truck around. We had hit a turning point here (literally and figuratively). I hated what he had done but I saw this as his expression of the intense grief he was experiencing. I decided I was not going to let this crisis destroy our love. I was going to hold him closer and work it through. He took off into the woods when we got home, he said to me "I ran and I ran and I ran through the brush until I couldn't run anymore, I was driven to my knees". I realized he was as sad as I was, he just had to express it differently than myself.

I could have decided our differences were too much, then and a few other times in our marriage when the Wendigo paid a visit.  Did that keep us going- not love- those key decisions at those critical times? Oh yes I loved him fiercely but many people love fiercely in their relationships and their marriages are still lost in a crisis. Why? Why not us with all we were tested with? Could it be that marriage is not built on fairy tales, that love at first sight does not sustain us, that soulmates come together from hard work not fate?

This brings me to our differences when it was life and death.  Terry never could tell me everything, even people madly in love keep secrets. I have secrets I can never tell about that time, about what I thought and how I felt. They haunt me, and I bet his haunted him. When Terry got the diagnosis that his cancer was terminal, he said to me, " I really fucked up this time".  I wish I had asked him what he meant, and let him unburden his heart in that moment,  instead I said it's not your fault you got cancer, I remember looking at him in the car and feeling so so sorry for him. I did not want to be feeling this, (for god sake Susan don't pity him, do something, say something!) I wanted to act right in that crisis but couldn't.  In some key areas I did not make the right decisions toward him personally or say the right words in this final crisis. I was just coming out of denial, it happened too soon, I needed more time to put it into words. I could only hold him and cry and tell him I needed him. I couldn't comfort him in his dying the way he may have needed, he could not tell me how he needed to be comforted. I could not hold him closer and work it out in this ultimate crisis. He was too far gone by this time, the toxins affecting his brain. This is where I failed in not seeing sooner. I loved him in the best way I could possibly love him at that time. But I failed in not seeing sooner that he was dying, when we could have talked it through, where I could have said all I wanted to say to him and him to me. It fucking rips my heart out what I didn't say. What he could no longer take in. Perhaps that is why I write, why I have to be public in my writing, using my voice.

I made one last choice to love in this our final crisis of marriage, one last time where I kept the Windigo out. I gave him a good death at home, I had his children there in time, I did not deny he had little time left. Even though I had just got the diagnosis I knew it was a matter of days, I did not deny that sad sad fact. My eyes wide opened, my voice silenced, my guilt enormous - yet it did not cripple me and stop me from acting. I gave him a good death. I did sick well that week.  I loved him in the best way I possibly could then.

I see couples in crisis, some work it through, some not. I can only say don't sit on your fence, don't half love, don't let the crisis decide for you. Decide, then act. It is what relationships grow or end on.

After the storm

"there will come a time you'll see with no more tears
And love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see what you find there
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair"

It's an old song by Mumford and Sons called After the Storm. It is fucking brilliant, it is about life and death. I sent this to my daughter after she lost George, confident she would find life again and rise above her pain and anguish. It has been a favorite song of mine for a long time now. It's hopeful because it talks about the pain and darkness we can overcome. A time when we can live again with beauty in our lives. I believed it for her. Sometimes I believe it for me. When I get glimmers, like love from my friends and insight in our discussions. Recently I noticed out of the corner of my eye this basket on my balcony. I had bought this last year and it had flowers (not these ones) in it and in the winter when they all died I had ripped out the dead tendrils leaving only the dirt. And lo and behold up comes these beautiful petunias this summer, out of the dirt. A new different flower. It reminded me of resilience and of this song. It seemed like a message to me, like I too would bloom again out of this nothingness I am currently experiencing. In my life right now I am at a place where I am nowhere. It is very uncomfortable, I don't like it, I don't want to embrace it. I can't run from it anymore.  I have nowhere to go.

"I won't die alone and be left here
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before"

In the religion of my youth we called a place like this purgatory, or for babies not baptized, limbo.  You're not in heaven (with the one you love) and you're not in hell (the panicked grief immediately after the storm). You are in a holding pattern waiting. Except I have nothing to wait for. These allegories of my youth are just that, stories we tell each other to stay hooked into wishing for what once was or for what could be. I tend to believe they are metaphor for death anxiety. The time well after the storm, the lull or the emptiness that stretches out night after night, the unending loneliness, the empty flower pot. This is purgatory, this is my life in limbo.

"And after the storm
I run and run as rains come
And I look up, I look up.
on my knees and out of luck
I look up".

I am not looking up, I have nowhere to look, nowhere to go. I just am here. I am stuck in a guilt grief loop asking why. Why did we fall in love so deeply to have this happen? Why did our personality and our patterns or schema connect? They the engine of this train that took us to where we had to go. Him the caretaker, me the one who "didn't do sick well". Was it that nurturer in you that kept you silenced about what you were experiencing before it was too late? Could you not admit your ails because it would mean I would have to take care of you now? And me the taker, the selfish one, used to your ministrations, did I neglect to see something I should of sooner because I only knew you in your pattern and me in mine and wanted to keep us there? God dammit I would have risen to the occasion, I would have pulled out every connection, every trick in the book, I would have researched your treatment and administered it myself. Why was I not allowed to do that? Was it me? Was it you? Was it tragic? Yes. And I am left with the unanswered questions. Alone in a desert asking.

"And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold".

After the storm, this impossible dank place of waiting. This barren dirt I sit in wondering. Will there come a time when I will get over this hill, when my flowers will bloom and I can put them in my hair and live again? I don't have the answers, I know nothing. I am in a holding pattern now. I have to learn to tend the garden and till the barren soil. Some days it is so hard, I want to run. I am scared of what's ahead. I am unfinished with what's behind, with the guilt that I know I need to till into the soil as well because from it will come my flowers. I hope. I hope.

"Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot."

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Good men exist

Men are wonderful, they are different from women, that is what is so refreshing about them and it's sometimes exactly just what I miss and need (a conversation, hug, their sense of humor, their strong hold, the wonderful company of a man). They think differently, they can bring a new perspective to my own thought processes and ways of doing life. They are physically strong, tire less easily than myself, they know shit I can't figure out nor want to. Now I love the women in my life, they get it on the whole female level, but men get it differently. I love that. I miss good men, men who love women. I especially miss the man who loved this women.

So when I see a bunch of hate mongering brown shirt nazi pig men marching and spewing their hate and self righteousness it first saddens me profoundly (because my good male isn't here to ease this sadness with a hug and tell me the world will be ok) and then it makes my blood boil. Who kidnapped the man in you all? Where did the beautiful other half of us go? I want to cover you up, hide your shame for the sake of the better in your gender, apologize for you to them - the good men. I can't express what it does to my gut to see the hate in your eyes, the prejudice and sense of smugness spewing from your mouths. You hurt all of humanity, your ignorance and bigotry lessens the world as a good and right place to be. Stop - just stop. You don't have to be like this just because you are white and you're male, because you have a dick. Who told you that you are privileged? That you have the right to keep everyone else excluded from your privilege? Is it just because your sexual organ is on the outside of your body? Is it? Is it because you are male and therefore somehow better and brighter and superior than us women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, disabled, poor, etc. etc. ? I wonder because I have not seen a mass protest by women with brown shirts, or white hoods spewing hatred and trying to keep everyone else down under our clitorises (those of us that haven't had them cut out by the male patriarchy afraid of our sexuality). But I digress. We are all human. Period. Fuck off and stop acting like you're something else better than your fellow human being.

I remember when that fucktard orange narcissistic smug piece of shit became president. I felt this overwhelming need to have a good man hug me. I felt afraid of the world, afraid for my gender. I wanted all the good men in my life to hold me and tell me it would be ok. I missed Terry so much that day. Today I felt that in my gut when I saw this picture online. I am fearful for the good men and women, I want them to stand up and be counted, to pull their magic tricks out and make this stop. I don't want to feel powerless against the bad males again like I did on that day. I am a strong women who loves good men, we can fight these cowards. Lets.

I miss men, today I miss them. I want their strength, I want them to tell me everything will work out. I want Terry to rant at the TV about them with me, to commiserate and tell me they are wrong, bad apples, misguided bigots, ignorant low lifes. That it's not the male gender - that good men exist, that they are there for me, that I don't need to be afraid- that good men do exist.