I’m really glad people can’t read my thoughts right now. I have a running dialogue on repeat . It is a little scary and sounds like a constant loop of the following:
I love you, call me when you can – the last words I spoke to you
He’s dead – Dad, weeping
Mom’s going to die – My words to Dad & Charlie when I could finally speak
It hurts. I don’t know how to do this. This isn’t fair. – The three nightmarish phrases that have become my mantra.
I need your help. The pain is overwhelming. It hurts beyond the physical. Beyond muscles, tissues, organs, to an indescribable place; is this what it feels like to hurt in your soul?
The pain is irrelevant. I would gladly suffer through it from now until the end of time if it meant I could see you again. If I could tell you how wonderful you are, how much I need you, how I can’t do this without you.
Mom’s a mess. She is strong and stoic on the outside, but her eyes give her away. She’s different now. We all are. But somehow mom is more beautiful than ever, like she has expanded her capacity for love. She loves you so much. You should see her in your Fedora. It’s the cutest damn sight.
She blames herself…even though we know there is nothing anyone could change. I’m more grateful for Papa Charlie than ever before.
Why didn’t I tell you to come visit on my birthday? At the time, Friday v. Monday didn’t seem like a big deal. What a stupid fucking mistake.
I had plans for us.
On Monday, we would go to Lost Dog and you would tell me about your love life. I would take notes, as usual. It is so hard to keep it straight. Where did you find all those amazing women to love you?
You could sleep on the air mattress in my room, or the couch. The roommies wouldn’t mind. They love you. Stay as long as you like. I will even stay up late with you watching that horrible blonde comedian you find so charming.
I’m not teaching now – so we have all day to play at the beach and, later, hunt for the perfect sandwich. I would go back to teaching this very instant if you promise to come. This time you’ll know better than to wear thick cotton sweat pants. I’ll even include Taylor Swift on the playlist.
I met some of your friends I didn’t know at the service. Mostly kids from MMA.
Can you believe how many people were there? They flowed through the church through the vestibule and onto the front steps. Walnut Hill has never been so full.
Do you know how loved you are?
Every one of your friends told me you were always talking about what a bad ass I am & how proud you are of me. The residual pangs of a sore lower lip serve as a reminder for all the tears held back. I wanted to show them you were right about me.
But I don’t feel physical pain right now.
One of your friends said I should become a black belt in your honor. So I’m looking into schools. Don’t worry, I promise to keep teaching yoga. I’ll be back as soon as the sight of a yoga mat doesn’t catapult me into a quivering pile on the floor.
Marianne Williamson (a cool spiritual teacher you would secretly like but most likely make fun of) says
“A dark night of the soul is one of the most transformative times
that we go through in our lives. They are sacred initiations.”
Mostly I just feel tired.
Dad and I are meeting this weekend in St. Petersburg for Father’s Day. You loved the beach so much, I wish you could have lived there. Sharon is with him, being a complete champ.
He wants to release your ghost in the Salvador Dali museum – do you remember our first trip? How fascinated we were?
He blames himself, just like mom. We all pass the blame like a torch, and even though we understand everyone when they tell us not to; there are moments when it feels impossible to think of anything other than the “what ifs”. Especially in the middle of the night.
Someone told me this is part of the grief cycle.
Dad has begun referring to me as his “left eye.” Do you remember a few years ago when his retina detached and he lost the vision in his right eye? He appreciated the left so much more after that.
Of course you remember, though. You were so patient with me on the phone when I freaked out about the possibility of him never being happy again. You even made me laugh.
I could really use your voice on the far end of a receiver tonight. It is lonely and I hear the running dialogue getting louder. I don’t need much. Only a nugget of great advice (which you rarely took for yourself) and some dirty joke to induce simultaneous laughing and flinching.
I hear you, you know. I can hear you now. You say to me:
“I believe in you. I’m so proud of you. Take as much time as you need, Bubbles, but remember how strong you are. Never forget the time you punched a 6’7″ NBA player to defend a friend. Mom’s been crying over silliness our whole life and, Dad, well, you know, he always figures things out for himself.”
And then…then you bring up the phoenix…like so many times in the past.
“We’ve been through hell together many times before and we always rise from the ashes, stronger than ever.”
But you aren’t going to rise from the ashes this time.
This time, I feel alone. And the task seems like a cruel joke without you.
But I HAVE to rise.
For you. For mom. For dad.
We thought we were so goddamn smart. We thought we understood the sensation of going up in flames.
We had no idea.
It hurts, Lukey. It hurts like fucking hell. And I want it to stop.
I want you back.
Life is dark now – as dark as it has ever been – yet subtle flickers of light remain somewhere deep inside. I can feel them fueling me – as meditation, medicine, hope. The pieces of me forming in the ash.
It’s you, isn’t it? That light? You want me to be that sweet, bubbly little sister you adored with strength forged in flames.
She’s still inside me somewhere, waiting for the moment to rise.
I can survive this. I can do this. I can get through this if you help me.
This mountain is high and steep and treacherous – it will require resilience and courage.
I know I can conquer it. I know because you believe in me.
I love you, Lukey.
P.S. I’m getting a Phoenix tattoo. Mom and Dad approve.