Life robbery

Before sky’s black cloak

The horizon was painted in red

I knew then

The arrival of winter’s dread.

 

I conversed with my father

As you lay inside sleeping

Straw death is coming

But no one is weeping.

 

As you travel Hel’s road

I don’t know what to feel

I think I’m numb

And none of it seems real.

 

I’ve known for weeks

This day would arrive

The time is coming

When you’re no longer alive.

 

In silence I stare

At the borderland of the sun

Searching for emotions

But no–not one.

 

As yellow-queen descends

So your life fades away.

But by the next morning

There your lifeless body lay.

 

©Shadow

Memories

Holding the faded photograph

Of a moment I cannot recall

From a time long ago

Of when I was small.

 

As you clutched her in your arms

My face is turned from view

We all posed for a picture

But everyone looks blue.

 

What was it all about?

And why do we all look so sad?

Were you unhappy about,

The family you could of had?

 

We all had our secrets

Hidden behind our frowned face

But now, for the last time

I must leave this place.

 

It’s funny how

Bad memories are erased by years

And sometimes the mind creates good ones

From a time there were once tears.

 

©Shadow

Dad leaves, the phantom man and finding a new home

In April of this year, I noticed that my father was suffering from coughing, fever, vomiting, chills, significant weakness.  As I might have mentioned before, a little over a year ago he had been diagnosed with cancer…melanoma which had metastasized to his liver, pelvic bone, and lung.  He had been receiving chemotherapy and he claimed that it was working. When I told he should see a doctor about his symptoms, he told me he had those symptoms because the chemotherapy was “burning the cancer out”.  

 

One day after I came home from work, my dad told me he discovered what was making him sick.  “It was bad Tilapia from Wal-mart”, so he threw out the whole bag. I’m sure I must have had a puzzled look on my face.  I could not determine if he really believed that or if he was trying to sell me this absurd story. “Bad Tilapia? It wouldn’t have anything to do with cancer or chemotherapy?  Like an allergic reaction to the chemo? Or anything like that?” I asked. He assured me it was the fish. I was left speechless by his ridiculous claim.

 

I decided to spend more time around my father in case he fell out in the floor, without him knowing what I was actually doing.  I was afraid to go to work but went anyway. I didn’t want to leave him home alone. Sometimes I would come home and he would be barefoot…he never walked barefoot.  Cabinet doors would be left open, refrigerated food would be left out on the counter, food in the microwave that he never ate. Sometimes he couldn’t remember if he had eaten anything.

 

Then one evening, I noticed he was struggling to get up to go to the restroom.  I watched him and instinctively knew something was about to happen. I watched the hallway opening from the living room waiting for his return from the restroom.  Nothing could break my focus. Then I heard him coming down the hallway. It sounded different and then I saw him. His left arm outstretched, his upper torso and head leaning to one side.  I rushed to him and he said “get me to the couch” but I knew he wasn’t going to make it. I did help break his fall anyway. He tried to get up from the floor and I pushed him back down. “You are staying right there.  I’m calling 9-1-1 and we are going to find out what is wrong with you.”

 

When he arrived at the hospital, his oxygen level was 40.  He ended up spending three weeks there and most of that time he was in ICU.  He had pneumonia and an allergic reaction to chemotherapy. After that, he was transferred to rehab where he stayed for 54 days.

 

I experienced an array of emotions.  I felt like I had been thrown off a cliff.  I was terrified to be in the house alone. For the first two weeks my dad was in the hospital, I constantly searched the house for what I ended up naming the Phantom Man.  I would check closets and under beds over and over again at night. During daylight hours, I spent my time memorizing the number of paces it would take me to get to the closest exit from various points within the house.  Conducting drills over and over and timing myself to see how long it would take me to get out. At night when I would lay down to go to sleep, I would keep my eyes fixed on my bedroom doorway waiting for this Phantom Man, but he never came.  I listened for him. Nothing. When I closed my eyes, I had terrifying visions of someone standing over me. But when I finally got up the nerve to open them, no one was there. Finally, I decided I would try something when I would close my eyes.  When the images came, I will just say “thinking”. Over and over again if necessary. Eventually, it helped and I was able to sleep and after a while I finally stopped looking in closets and under beds too.

 

As I became more comfortable being alone…in a decent sized house…in a rural area, I found myself wanting my father to stay away.  “My brother and sister will not help me”, I thought, “and I can’t take care of him by myself. It will be better if he dies in rehab.”  My father decided that he wanted to stay in a long term care facility that was one of the best in the area.

 

I made arrangements to become POA for my father while he was still in his right mind.  This gave me the authority to use his money for his care while he resided in the long term care facility.  Once I used it all, the state will pay for his care…after they probed his financial records for the last 5 years.  So, I am taking great care to save every receipt so I can show that his money was used for his needs.

 

But it also meant something else.  A person cannot have a lot of assets if they are requesting financial assistance from the state.   It is for people who don’t have resources to pay for their own care. This means, when I have used all of his resources, his house and land will have to be sold for fair market value…the house I live in.  I cannot buy it because I have $80,000 worth of student loans and $23,000 worth of credit card debt. I am currently in the process of filing bankruptcy for the credit card debt (it can’t file bankruptcy on student loans).  Besides, I don’t like long term commitments. I like the freedom of being able to leave whenever I want. And renting as opposed to buying allows me to do that.

 

I had to find a place to rent.  So, I started saving money and began my search for a new place…preferably a one room house where I can see all of the few possesses I own.  It proved to be more difficult than I thought possible. I didn’t exactly get what I wanted but I did move into a one bedroom apartment and for the next four weeks I lived there, it would be hell.

 

That story will be in the next post…

 

-Shadow

“Sleep comes before death and those who sleep do not suffer.”

In 2014, after my last break up, I moved back in with parents.  I did this for two reasons: 1. Living alone was not an option for me because my mind plays tricks on me when I am alone and 2.  I have a history of excessive spending and struggle to hold onto a dollar so I didn’t have the money to find my own place.

Not long after I had been living with my parents, I noticed something different about my mother.  She seemed very sad. I could tell something was wrong but I dared not ask. Fast forward to October 2017.  My mother had been sick for days, she couldn’t kept food down and when she could, she barely ate anything. She was a night owl and liked to stay up until 5am.  I had to go to bed much earlier because I work first shift. My father liked to go to bed early too, he’s always been an early bird.

Sometime at the end of October my father woke me up at 2am and said “Help me get your mother up”.  I was confused and dazed from some OTC sleep aid I had taken the night before. When I walked into the living room, there my mother lay in a pool of her own blood on the floor.  To my surprise, I jumped right into action. I said “We can’t move her in this condition. Call 9-1-1.” My dad responded with “She wants up and in her chair”. I am 5 ft. 11 inches, small framed, weighing 150 lbs and my father was even smaller, 6 feet tall and 135 lbs (he has cancer).  My mother on the other hand was 6 ft. 2 inches, 180 lbs. Somehow, we managed to scoop her right up and put her in her chair. She said, “I called for you three times but you never came.” I replied, “I’m sorry I was asleep.” Her left eye was swollen shut, he face was purple, blood was everywhere.  For whatever reason, I grabbed a washcloth and began trying to wipe the blood from her face, hands, and hair as my dad called 9-1-1. Then things began to get a bit fuzzy for me. I remember cleaning up the blood from the floor but don’t remember getting the cleaning supplies I was using. I remember thinking that she must have been in the floor for a long time because the blood was already clotting.  Blood was all over the wall…why was I trying to clean it up? The next thing I remember, the ambulance came and took her away and I was left in the house alone. I felt sick, my mind was whirling, and the image of all that blood kept replaying over and over again in my head. Somehow I made it to my bed to lay down and the room was spinning. Sadness and anger overwhelmed me and I began to scream and punch myself as the words “I called for you three times but you never came” kept echoing in my mind.  

A few hours later, I received word that she was transported to the local hospital and then transport to a trauma center two hours away.  About an hour or so after I had arrived at the trauma center, the doctor wanted to speak with my father and I. He said, “Your mother admitted to me that she has been a heavy smoker for many years.  So we believe it started in her lung and went to her brain. My condolences.” WTF? I asked, “Is she still alive?” He said, “Yes, she was talking to me just now.” I was confused, why the hell was he offering his condolences if she is still alive?  Over the next couple of weeks she remain in the hospital, we received only bits and pieces of information. It seemed as though no one wanted to say anything. Getting information was like pulling teeth. We did find out that she had a bunch of broken bones in her face and they had to do some kind of surgery to fix the broken nose.  Finally the word my sister received from the doctor was “we are not dealing with a lot of time here.” They released her to come home but she was in no shape to be at home. And when I seen her, I knew she was dying. Hospice was called to assist and they gave me a booklet about the dying process. I read the whole thing. I am grateful that they gave me that booklet because I knew what was coming in the next stage of the process.  A few weeks later on November 21st, my mother was dead from brain cancer…my father and I caring for her until her last day.

People kept telling me “I’m sorry for you loss”.  What have I lost? Her constant criticism and verbal assaults?  Should I be sorry she is no longer here to make me feel like shit of every decision I have ever made?  But I suppose, for good or for bad, she was my first teacher.

My father told me he wanted me to speak at her memorial.  That should interesting. I told my father my abuser should not be there.  “You should tell him not to come”. My father replies, “He is family, he has a right to be there.”  I was enraged and before storming out of the room I screamed “The only right he has is to be disemboweled with a dull sickle!”  He responds “Just ignore him and he will go away.”  I was so angry, but now that I reflect on it, what was I trying to avoid?

The day of her memorial, this is what I came up with: “She used to say her motto was ‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’.  Her words were a gut punch sometimes but you always knew where you stood with her. That made her authentic.” That was all I had and it was as nice as I could be.  My younger sister talked about when she was young and how she used to sit in her lap and my mother would read to her. I searched my mind but had no memory of her reading to me.  And I had no memory of what my sister was describing.  I wondered if my sister was lying but knew that wasn’t like her. My cousins had similar stories of spending the night at their aunt’s house.  Why did I have no memories of any of this? My older brother sat in silence, never saying a word.

Then I saw HIM…”Chester the molester”. I spent most of my time avoiding him. Then I was in the kitchen when I heard him call my name from behind me.  (Now might be a good time to mention that the memorial was held at my parents house.) I felt his hand on my right shoulder and then…blank…nothing…I “woke up” sometime later, standing a few feet from where I was before he had touched my shoulder and my cousin was in my face saying something…I don’t know what.  I couldn’t understand her. Her voice sounded distorted and I was confused, trying to get my bearings…”what the hell just happened?” I thought and whether I said it out loud, I do not know. I left her standing there, pushed through people and exiting the room. I call these episodes…which I have had before… out of body experiences.  It makes them seem more esoteric and mysterious.

I do not recall shedding a tear over my mother’s death.  My sister is convinced that my delayed response is genetic. I don’t think I’ve grieved.  What should I be grieving? Should I be sad? What should I be?  Maybe I’ve been grieving my whole life for what I thought I deserved but never got from her.  

Maybe all I have is this trauma and pain that I cannot let go.  If I let it go, I have nothing to write about.  It is the source of my inspiration and poetry.  And without it, what am I?

-Shadow