Category Archives: death

Today is October 27, 2017. I am alive and well.

My blog is delayed. I actually wrote a blog on Monday to post but decided it wasn’t appropriate. It was about my friend who lost her 93-year-old mom and my relative who attempted suicide by trying to slit an artery in her leg. Her attempt was fueled by alcohol.

I love these two people. It’s not always easy to know what to say. The best I can do is to say I love you. Which I’ve done.

We leave this world in all different ways. Death greets us fiercely. Except for near death experiences, death is blind; we don’t know what’s beyond it.

Some doctors feel like we’re not honoring death because we’re treating it like a disease. Doctors try to cure it no matter what. Keep the patient alive no matter what. Sometimes I believe we simply, or not so simply, need to let the person go so the suffering ends. As hard as that may be it can be the kind thing to do.

Sadly, my grandmother ended up feeling bad and responsible for my grandfather’s death. My grandfather broke his neck. He couldn’t swallow with the halo, so then they gave him a feeding tube. Then he got pneumonia. It was one thing after another. When they took off the halo, they discovered the bones had not fused together because of osteoporosis. By then he was too fragile for surgery. My grandmother decided to put him in hospice. The hospital had a floor for hospice patients. His room was nice. Warm. Even cozy. There was no medical equipment and he was in a regular bed, dressed in his own pajamas with a quilt as a cover.

My grandmother didn’t realize that they weren’t going to feed him. I do believe he died from starvation. He went peacefully. My grandmother was with him when he took his last breath.

My grandfather always raked the leaves that had fallen from the trees in the front yard. The morning after his death, I raked these leaves. Raking them allowed me to feel the presence of him.

Today I have a healthy fear of death. That was not always the case. I have many times sought death to no avail. It hasn’t been my time to go.

My last suicide attempt has been at least nineteen years ago. Since then, I have lived much life. My relationships with friends have deepened. I had a fourteen year relationship with one man who I loved with the whole of me. I completed an MFA and had a book published. A short memoir piece of mine is being published in the Delmarva Review out in November and currently on-line.

I have breathed life. My breath is steady like the clip clop of a horse in cantor. The raven soars with ease. I soar while having my boots keep me heavy to the earth.

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Today is September 4, 2017. I am alive and well.

There ain’t no use in dyin’ ‘fore yer time. Lots of folks is walkin’ ’round jes as dead as they’ll ever be. ¬† Alice Caldwell Rice

I know what’s it’s like to walk around dead. I remember clearly waking up from a night’s sleep, from a nap, from several naps and having nothing to look forward to, nothing to feel joy about, nothing to love.

I was a vessel with no oars, adrift. I didn’t know I could swim to shore at anytime. Getting wet was painful. It reminded me that I could take a towel to dry off. I could get into clean clothes. Neither thing appealed to me. Both things required too much energy.

My grandmother was afraid to leave me in the house alone. She was afraid of what I might do….I might try to take my own life. A balloon will pop if too much pressure is applied. The latex that is left afterward is trash. I was certain to leave trash. I was certain to leave a life not lived. Harsh, but true.

My grandmother had to go to the mountains to close up the cabin for the winter. She asked my mother to come and stay with me. My mother did. She created a space for herself in the family room in front of the TV with sheets, an ashtray, and a bottle of vodka. Mom whose petals have long since fallen off leaving only the unblinking face of a sunflower.

I didn’t mingle with her when she was there. We were both dying in our own ways. Maybe my life greeting her life would cause a silent flame that had no place to burn. A candle wick unlit saves the candle from melting. Maybe we thought melted wax was too messy and impossible to clean from the carpeting. Our lives were not messy. They were stale.

I don’t recall the day I began to walk back into the living. But I know that I did because I am here and have been here for quite sometime, unafraid of leaving little messes in my wake. I try to clean up as I go and am usually able to wipe the water spots from the mirror leaving a sweet reflection of a kind smile.

My mom didn’t fare so well. She died at the age of 58 from alcoholism; her liver stopped working.

I regret the love that went unshared between us. I believe the most valuable thing we have to offer is our time. I didn’t give my mom time. So, today I hope to spread kindness in this world. Walk into life with a smile for others. Corny, yes. Necessary, yes. I reach out today and am offered a bouquet.

Today is August 7, 2017. I am alive and well.

If a mind is just a few pounds of blood, dream, and electric, how does it manage to contemplate itself, worry about its soul, do time-and-motion studies, admire the shy hooves of a goat, know it will die, enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart.

Diane Ackerman

I contemplate my mind frequently. It is an engine attached to the caboose of my heart. When mind and heart are in sync, beauty happens. For me to think my mind is special is amazing for I have schizophrenia. I am at peace with this. I wouldn’t change it as it has given me bursts of creativity. Yes I have rough patches, grass browns when needing water, but they pass and I’m left in wonderment.

I believe my soul wants to live in real time. My conscience floods my soul with magic. I believe in the power of soul to ignite hours each day. A candle not gathering dust. A wick waiting to be lit. I don’t worry that my soul will become polluted and I’ll end up in hell. I don’t know that I believe in judgment day.

I’m not certain what “do time-and-motion studies” means. Does it mean we follow a clock? Recently, the library I work at flooded. I was moved to a branch while repairs are being made. I let the boss at my new location know it was really important for me to get my same hours. Time matters. Fortunately, she accommodated me. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, yes?

I feel time move. Especially recently in respect to my age. There’s a gentleman I want to ask out but he’s twenty years my junior. He was an infant when I had my first real kiss!

The line “admire the shy hooves of a goat” is beautiful. I admire the swift feet of my cats, the way my friend sips coffee, the sun entering my windshield. Often, small things vibrate like the pigtails of a toddler.

Of course my mind knows it will die someday. My brain will shut off. My heart will stop beating. My feet and hands will be still. I use to want to speed this process up. I have attempted suicide at least nine times, three of them ending in my waking in ICU. Not wanting to die anymore is an act of God. I value my life and hope to give something back.

“Enjoy all the grand and lesser mayhems of the heart” of which there are many. I’ll leave you to meditate on this. Thanks for your readership.

Kristina

May 29, 2017. I am alive and well.

So, I’m entering a contest with a short memoir piece. I think it’s important to know that I have schizophrenia before reading it. Schizophrenia sometimes influences my writing. Thanks for the read! This is part one of three.

Hospital Visit Number 47

The doctor will try to shake loose my shadow and fail. I seek sleep in the hospital gown and am left with wrinkled cotton creating patterns on my back. The hospital gown is not flattering and catches breeze from the movement of other people. I stand as still as a hinge. I am told the elephants have moved. The teeth of the comb has been cleaned. It is another calendar year and I am again in the same place protecting my heart from the suddenness of a light snow fall. The snow will wait as I am in Phoenix. The psych hospital is the same as I remember; a series of doors the same color marching down a long hall.

When my hands are locked at the knuckles I cannot plant alfalfa. I am told alfalfa is good for arthritis. I need to let my grandmother know this. Her knuckles are tinged by muscle ache. I can’t tuck the charm bracelet she gave me into velvet. Instead, the elephants with their ruby eyes get tossed beside the comb on a tiny nightstand. Strands of hair now wrap around the teeth of the comb.

It is cold in my skin. In two hours my shadow will appear obvious. It will reach the knob of the door before I do. The door does not lock. The psych techs need to be able to enter on a whim. They are in place to protect me from myself. I didn’t realize I was in danger until it was almost too late. The bottles of Tylenol and Ativan lined up on the counter begged for my attention. Had my grandmother not walked in, I would have swallowed mouthfuls and then laid down to leave. I have no idea who if anyone is on the other side to greet me.

I am at the end of the long hall in front of the nurses’s station, in front of the desk where the psych techs spend most of their time. The telephone is on the wall across from them. They can hear whole conversations. No words leave my mouth. How will they know my heart has stopped since noon? I protect it the way a child does her first hat.

There is not enough room in the hall for the tall man to shout, but he tries. It does not get him the cup of cocoa he craves.

 

 

Today is May 14, 2017. I am alive and well.

Is it too cliche to write about mother on Mother’s Day? I do it anyway.

My mother has been dead for a long time. I miss her more today then I did when she first died. I have more life experiences to share with her. A whole tablet full of life; sentences that breathe…I had a boyfriend for fourteen years who left me for another woman and moved to Florida. Mom was not familiar with me having boyfriends. She knew me to have girlfriends. She hated the fact that I had girlfriends.

Mom died from a liver that stopped working. Yes, it was an alcohol related death. I knew she drank too much, but I didn’t know it was signed up to kill her. She was walking around as usual on Thursday and then in a coma that night. The second to last thing she said to me was from a psychiatric urgent care. She was acting crazy and her roommate called crisis. Crisis took her to the urgent care. She said to me she trusted “all the wrong people.” I’m certain she meant my father for one. He ran away with another woman the same month that both mom’s parents had died. It was tragic. It was a river stopped by a damn beavers had made. The flow interrupted. She asked me one morning to go to my father’s apartment to catch him with the other woman. My father was living in an apartment for work and would go home on the weekends until he wouldn’t anymore. I refused to go catch him.

The psychiatric urgent care wanted to clear my mom physically before treating her mind. They thought she looked bad. She fell into a coma in the ambulance on the way to Lincoln Memorial hospital. Honest Abe. The honest thing to say about her death is that her alcohol consumption killed her. She was a drunk. I tell her story with the hope that other people will put down the bourbon, knowing that alcohol is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” A person can’t direct what heavily drinking will do. The alcohol is the beast with all the power.

I visited her at Lincoln Memorial. The last thing she did was sit up and stare at me. I told her I loved her. I told her I knew she loved her daughters. She laid back down with a sigh. And that was it. She died without waking again. She was only 58. Five years more than I am right now. Five years I have to set the world afire doing my thing. What is my thing to do? To write. To read. To work. To love. To write.

I miss you mom. When the cats are both staring at the entrance to my bedroom, I choose to believe it’s you who has come to visit. You give me strength. You taught me to be courageous. I will always be your daughter. I will live past 58. I hope you are proud of me. I love you like I do walking. I walk forward with you on my mind. You, leading me to water. Thank you.

Today is May 1, 2017. I am alive and well.

The first thing my sister said to me when I ran into her after 7 years of no contact was “Wow, you’re still alive.” And then my uncle said to me yesterday “I bet you didn’t think you’d see 53.”

It is true. I had no intention of living to 53. A driver has no intention of holding up traffic when her truck stalls out. I have had somewhere between 15 and 20 suicide attempts in my lifetime. The last one was in 1999. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to die since then; that’s simply the last time I attempted. Maybe the East Indian doctor with the soulful dark eyes, smelling of lavender, rubbed off on me. She told me at my bedside in the hospital ICU that I had a lot of life to live. That I had something special to offer. A five-year-old gets excited when she opens the door of the restaurant for her mother for the first time, offering entrance. I got excited about my book being published in 2014. It documented my recovery from schizophrenia and alcoholism. And yes, my time away from my last suicide attempt.

I have been free from the obsession to die for sometime now. That thought had plagued me like wanting a cigarette, needing a cigarette, in a smoke free coffee house. All thinking got set aside as I prayed for God to take me after swallowing handfuls of pills.

I am very bad at dying. It is hard to kill one’s self. I believe that those who do die from suicide were meant too….I can’t tell you why I believe this. Some ice cubes in a glass of tea float to the top while others remain at the bottom. I can’t tell you why all the ice doesn’t float to the top, getting in the way of the straw.

I am in the way of death. I have floated to the top. God removed my obsession to die. Life is new to me on a daily basis.

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes. I was excited to be able to do this on my own. On occasion, my shoe becomes untied while walking on the treadmill. I push the pause button and then bend over to tie my shoe. Ready to walk again, I hit a button and the treadmill resumes.

Life resumes. I love breathing. I love eating cake with butter cream frosting. I love that my cats woke me up this morning wanting kibbles. I take care of two living things. They thank me by curling up against me while I’m on the bed napping, writing, or reading.

There is no time to die today. Afternoon approaches. I know I will eat vegan chili, salad, and cornbread. I know I will wash my hair later. I will leave the house today to go to a sobriety meeting. I am 53 and loving it. So I say to my sister “I am alive and well.” She responds with a “thank God” and “it’s good to see you.” It is good to be seen. It will reach a 115 degrees here in the desert. And then there is air conditioning to be found inside.

Today is April 3, 2017. I am alive and well.

I’m reading a young adult novel The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. A young adult novel because I’m interested in writing a young adult novel. And yes, the main characters in the book are ghosts.

One of my closet friends has been a ghost hunter, recording paranormal activity. Obviously, she believes, without a doubt, that places can be haunted. I don’t know that I believe this. I do know that I feel my grandmother and mother near me at times. I don’t know if that’s because they truly are or because I will them to be with all my might. My cats, Grams named after my grandmother, and Annie named after my mother, do often stare at space intently as if they’re watching something move about. Their ears prick up and their eyes focus. I imagine a gust of fog entering my bedroom like smoke trailing from a lit cigarette in somebody’s hand.

I’m ¬†also listening to Andy Cohen read from his diaries. I wonder what makes his drinking coffee and buttering toast more interesting than someone else doing the same thing. Seeing as his diaries made it to fourth on the New York Time’s Bestsellers List he must be doing something right. The mundane becomes extraordinary. I wonder if he can make flossing teeth entertaining simply because he’s Andy.

I write memoirs. I must think, like Andy, that something I’ve done is worth telling. I’ve listened to people say “write what you’d want to read.” So I’ve done this. I’ve written about hope despite the fact that I have schizophrenia and alcoholism. My sweat is no sweeter than others; I’ve just managed to wipe my brow on page ten and change my socks for a clean pair on page eleven.

Writing about my life is hard, is fun, is something I hope to continue doing even if or when someone tells me I’m boring.