Category Archives: death

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.

Today is July 15, 2016. I am alive.

I have never written about world events. Just like Orlando sickens me, the massacre in France sickens me. How can a person hate so much? The TV telecast did say that here is security in many areas where the perpetrator/s are caught before doing damage and taking lives. We don’t hear about those places. We only hear about devastation.

Is it hate that propels the perpetrator/s to commit such heinous crimes? That’s only part of it, I suppose. I’m tempted to use a metaphor for hate here but hate is nothing but hate. Brutal.

Outside my window, the day moves on in Arizona. The heat on my skin feels tender for about thirty seconds after leaving an overly air conditioned room. After that, it’s like touching the bottom of a frying pan, waiting for it to cool down so it can be washed. The air conditioning in my truck washing me in indoor breeze is desired.

Do I hate? Do I hate random things like a scorching sun? Do I hate that my truck guzzles gasoline like a thirsty baby on the breast of her mother? Do I hate the perpetrator/s of violent crimes? Does hate trump a loving heart? The love poured forth for all the victims by strangers is powerful. Maybe demonstrations of love are mightier than hate. It is true that hate cannot strip a person of the capacity to love, emphasize, feel compassion unless hate is summoned like a callused hand; the callouses prominent on a hardened palm.

Seek love. Offer love. Play the ace with a welcomed queen. I don’t want to minimize anything by using poetic language, but poetry is my call to love.

Today is July 11, 2016. I am alive and well.

My struggling has scuttled away on the back of a cockroach (this is imagined, I don’t have cockroaches in my condo). I brush my obsessions into a small box with a lock and throw the key down the garbage chute. The key clangs as it hits the metal of an empty bin.

One of the things I know about living a sober life is that things change. My thoughts are not clinging to my brain waves like the keys of a piano in the fingers of a beginner playing chop sticks, after chop sticks, after chop sticks. Things have shifted. I am at peace.

I just finished listening to the audio book The 27 Club. It talked about the fact that musicians Brian Wilson, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse al died at the ago of 27. All deaths were linked to heavy alcohol and drug abuse. I find this bit of trivia astounding. The world mourned their passing. The world lost major talent. The world was robbed of beauty.

I think of my own suicide attempts. As being no celebrity, my death would be a quiet one. After one attempt at suicide, an East Indian doctor came to visit me in the Intensive Care Unit of Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. She was petite. Her hands delicately hung at her sides. Yet, there was a power to her. She said to me, “you still have something to do in this lifetime.” Her words were kind–unlike the treatment I was getting from some of the nurses. I met her gaze and realized she was not kidding or saying something for lack of saying something else comforting.

I do remember as a kid looking into the mirror and saying, “you will speak before audiences and make more money than you’ll ever need.” I have spoke before audiences while telling my story of sobriety. I have read from my poetry manuscript during my defense for my Master of Fine Arts. I have read at a local bookstore parts of my memoir, Mind Without a Home. I still have yet to have a good deal of money, but don’t doubt that it may happen.

So, it is miraculous again to be at peace after a couple of trying days. I am blessed. Thank God for this wave of linen bellowing from a clothesline.