i will love you

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I’m not a fan of angels. I mean, I like the concept. That someone is watching over you, and helping God do his work. Or something like that. It’s not the angels I have a problem conceptualizing. It’s their wings. They freak me out. Like, do you just grow wings when you die and fly around the heavens all day? This idea just doesn’t work for me.

I watched a video the other day of stairs going up to heaven, and the angel getting wings and I just had this adverse reaction to it. It’s like I think that Matt isn’t really into that yet. Like at what point do you grow them? You can see the problem.

So. Yoga.

I found a yoga studio when I first moved to Modesto, and I ended up going a few times a week. I loved it. Hot yoga by its mere location…and it was something sorta kitschy and fun, and a break from running while I figured out new routes. Then, when Matt died, I would sob in my classes. At the end, when you are flat and meditating, I would just bawl. The owner of the shop extended my registration due to being out of town 2 times. A lovely studio and people.

You’re to set an intention for every practice. Shortly after his death, I would just numbly stare at the wall with no intention at all, except to get through the hour without becoming a mess.

So, last night, I was thinking about when Matt became a Shellback. There’s an initiation of sorts when you cross the equator, and you have to do all these humiliating sorts of things. Silly fraternity type things. You enter as a pollywog, and leave as a Shellback. You gotta get an olive or a cherry out of a belly button of some big dude acting as King Neptune. With your mouth. You gotta crawl through vomit, these sorts of things.

As I was leaning down to do Warrior 3, a pose I can never do, I heard that word. WARRIOR. And I thought of how my nephew probably had to pull out all of his warrior inner strength to get through that initiation. I felt the strength. I felt him holding me in my pose, and encouraging me to stand strong. I didn’t shake. And each time I got in that position for the rest of the hour, I FELT HIM.

As we held our last meditative position, I saw him in his dress whites. On a ship. Standing strong. I imagined saying to him, “Hey don’t pull any of that angel shit. I just am not seeing it.” And he stood strong. And said, “Aunt Linda, you’re gonna be okay. But, I have to go. I have to.” And he was at peace. And strong. A warrior. A brave man, who I happen to think is gone to soon. But. I’m not in charge of the universe apparently.

He stood on the deck of the ship. It started sailing and I was not happy. Tears were streaming down my face. My yoga teacher rubbed my temples, as she does to all at the end of the practice. I cried right into her fingers. And he smiled. And I said.

I will love you.

Okay, so angels. No. I prefer him to be helping stray animals. To be strong for new people coming in to heaven. To direct others where to go. I imagine he is in charge of finding the right place for newbies to get initiated into the next spiritual journey. But. There will be no wings on this boy.

I see him forever in his dress whites. Standing at honor. And, finally. At peace.

what i forgot to say.

 

I read what I wrote at his funeral.  It was my second draft.  The first draft is somewhere in my office, and I’m sure it’s quite different than what I ended up saying.

I meant to tell you something else.

When he lived with me, he was completely self-supporting.

He got a job.  he saved 2 guys and got a medal in the navy  TWO GUYS!

He relied on no one.

I forgot to tell you that he was most respectful, even as he grumbled about my rules.

I forgot to say that he was a proud man.

And yesterday, I decided that I couldn’t talk about him at night, or in the morning, or at work.  I was freaking myself out.

I had a panic-like attack today.  It wasn’t real, but I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  That the pressures from my job, and weird emails from a bizarre source, and 8 hours of work I tried to cram into 3 made me simply overwhelmed.  I did 3 rounds of meditation in my office.  I signed up for yoga tonight.

Then I came home.  Locked my keys in the house.  Again for the millionth time.  My son was at his Dad’s, and I drove to get his keys.  It was a nightmare of sorts.  Missed the yoga class.  Didn’t get to the market for food.  Didn’t clean the house for my boys’ return.

I drove into Ripon, and I was not flooded with missing my home town, but the remembrance that he walked everywhere, and though he would let me drive him to his job in the next town, but mostly, he walked.

And I remembered what I forgot to say then.  That I would come and get you.

Like I told you the last time we talked.  You call me anytime, and I will come and get you.

So.  You must have forgotten what I told you.

And it’s night time.  And I was not supposed to think about him at night.

Yet, I found myself wailing as I got on the freeway.  Where are you?  Why?  Why?  And more not being able to breathe.

And then a bargain for the Dodgers game this weekend.

I write.  This is what I do.

Because somehow it’s a little better just getting the sadness down my arms and through my fingers, and onto this page.

So I.

I will think of something that lasts forever.  Something I can count on.

Someone.

You want it to be God, but he doesn’t hear me like I need him to.  I’m in this abyss alone, it seems.

I see him in my old house at 10 years old when he and his sister sleep in sleeping bags on the floor, she having tea with me,

he scampering around with my dog.

And I can see him as a boy running down that hall.

Those tickets?  Those stupid Kirk Gibson tickets?  He was with me at that game in 1988.

I see him with his baseball glove.   Waiting.

I forgot, I remember, I forget again.  Meanwhile, it’s baseball season.

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(This was an except of a poem I read at his funeral.)

“The Green Fields of the Mind “

by A. Bartlett Giamatti

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.

 

never too much.

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I found it.  Our last picture together.  I wanted more.  More reminders of him.  A selfie.  Our one and only.

I remember when Harley Guy and I got together…how long ago?  2010?  And, I was mad about Twitter, and had never done Facebook.  When I finally got a Facebook account, I posted like I tweeted.  A lot.  And I said to him, “Do I post too much?”  His response was, “There’s never too much.”  I’ve adopted this attitude about social media. Never enough.

Especially now.  I’m almost a month away from the death of my nephew.  Death.  It does not roll off my tongue.  I hate it.  I resist it.  But.  He died.  And, I’m trying to make sense of it. His sweet girlfriend finds me on Facebook.  For the last 24 hours, Matt has come alive for me.  Things I didn’t know about him.  Wonderful messages about his life, his loves and his passions.  She opened up her pictures to me, and I have been more thrilled than I thought I could be.

Because there’s never enough.

I think to myself, well.  You weren’t his mother.  You were only his aunt.  How come you are crying again?  It’s been almost a month.  Can you NOT GET A GRIP??

Then I realize.  I’ve embraced this grief.  I’ve embraced it because I know that to close it down, will be to shut down and lock a piece of my heart away, forever.  Matt was a shooting star that I couldn’t catch.  A Dodger lover.  An animal lover.  Saving lives on the Kitty Hawk.  A father.  My nephew.

As I watched the Dodgers lose tonight, and am currently listening to the 12th inning of the Giants-Phillies game, I went through every picture I have on my computer. Starting in 2006.  55 images.  Matt, his daughter, my parents, my kids.  All of the pictures nestled deep in this slideshow make this boy come alive for me once again.  And for once, tonight, I am not trying to figure out a way I could have inserted myself in the picture… to save him on the night that he died.

There is never enough.  Take all the pictures.  Post them.  Share them.  Because some day, like tonight, you will be grateful that you did.

 

IMG_0113Our last picture together.  2013 Holidays.

Embrace.

A numbness. Then tears. Then numbness. This has been my week. Reconnecting with old friends. Not being able to reach someone I love.

Tears.

And wondering what he would actually say to me now. I meditated on this tonight as part of a TED talk challenge. This is what I heard:

“Aunt Linda. Stop. Don’t you understand? I’m ok. It had to be this way. And it’s ok.”

Oddly, I didn’t fight this. It felt authentic. Real.

I was no longer scared. I’ve slept 3 hours a night a few times this week, and I was starting to get acquainted with 2am.

I was afraid of the thoughts in my head: How can I get him his shoes? Where are his shoes? I can’t put away some of the hurts of that week. Of my boys. That we had to deal with this on our own. That when they instagrammed and tweeted that they were just doing what they needed. That I don’t want to go on the 101 anymore.

That there most definitely is a hole in the world tonight. And we are adjusting to a world without Matt.

I was just telling Harley Guy that it makes sense not to want to love anymore, because it’s too hard to lose.

Yet. Here I go again.

Oh. I miss him so much.

The Great Escape.

This song is for Crystal.  I’m right here girl.  I’ll be right here when you are ready.

 

“The Great Escape”

 

I can understand how when the edges are rough
And they cut you like the tiny slivers of glass
And you feel too much
And you don’t know how long you’re gonna last,But everyone you know, is tryna smooth it over,
Find a way to make the hurt go away,
But everyone you know, is tryna smooth it over,
Like you’re trying to scream underwater,
But I won’t let you make the great escape,
I’m never gonna watch you checking out of this place
I’m not gonna lose you
‘Cause the passion and pain
Are gonna keep you alive someday
Gonna keep you alive somedayI feel like I could wave my fist in front of your face
And you wouldn’t flinch or even feel a thing
And you’ve retreated to your silent corner
Like you decided the fight was over for ya,

Everyone you know, is tryna smooth it over,
Find a way to make the hurt go away,
Everyone you know, is tryna smooth it over,
Everyone needs a floor they can fall through
But I won’t let you make the great escape,
I’m never gonna watch you checking out of this place
I’m not gonna lose you
‘Cause the passion and pain
Are gonna keep you alive someday
They’re gonna keep you alive someday

Oh, Terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me
And I won’t need a pill to make me numb
And I wrote the book on runnin’,
But that chapter of my life will soon be done

I’m the king of the great escape
You’re not gonna watch me checking out of this place
You’re not gonna lose me
‘Cause the passion and pain
Are gonna keep us alive someday
Yeah the passion and the pain
Are gonna keep us alive someday, someday

The Price Of Admission

20140713-214020-78020385.jpgI’m driving home tonight.  The funeral was Tuesday.  I came home Wednesday, and promptly left work, which I’m not even sure how I went there.  On Wednesday, my love came to me, because I was scared.  I was holding my breath, and wondering how I could walk back into my house as if nothing had happened.  He has listened to me cry and rant, and held me when I thought my heart would burst out of my chest.

Because nights are hard.  And mornings are hard.  And I wake up in the middle of the night, and I think I need to tell my beautiful nephew something that I should have told him on our last phone call, and I just can’t tell him anymore.  And I’m looking for signs everywhere.  My magical thinking looks for messages in the sky, in a song, in a Dodgers baseball game.  And I take this picture as I’m driving home tonight, and I look at the sky, and I think I see a boy there…  and it’s just a cloud.  But I see him. I SEE HIM DAMMIT.

My parents came up on Friday, and my Dad went to work sweeping, fixing, doing what he needs to do to not completely fall apart because his first grandchild and grandson has left him just way too soon.  My Mom and I eat cake, and sit by candlelight, and they are so not like me…their grief is completely private, and theirs…but mine.  Mine is like raging fire in my heart, and I want to look at the lady at the checkout and say, ya know, my nephew just died, and how are you even asking for my pin number right now?  Don’t you understand?

My Mom and I are play-fighting over who should carry their bottle of water today right before the baby shower, and she is grabbing it, and I am grabbing it, and we are kinda sorta yelling but not really, and then I start crying.  I’m just crying.  Because he isn’t here, and I can’t tell him that last thing that I think he needs to know.  And then I get mad, because it doesn’t even matter anymore.  He can’t reach out and call me.  There is something about being that person for someone, even if it’s only once in a while.

And, just last month, I got a notification that he left Facebook, and I thought it was weird, because he already left Facebook, so why am I getting notified now?  And, how come Mumford and Sons still makes me think of horses galloping, and how come today I looked up at a sign in a window, and it said NAVY INSURANCE.  What the heck is that anyway?   And, how come yesterday, my son says that on the way home, his friend’s dad radio was playing Wild World…?  A song that is so old, but played by my sister as her son left for the Navy?

My heart knows he is okay.  He was a believer.  He’s okay.

But my head.  I can’t shut my head up.

I ran yesterday.  I worked out today.

I don’t know how to love a broken sister with a lost son, and I don’t know how to stop crying.  At random times.  At daybreak.

And I come home, and my teenagers are watching Walking Dead, and it’s really loud, and they start to go to their rooms.  I ask them to stay.  Because I need them near me, and I put on headphones, and I type, and they eat candy at 10pm, because they can.

I can’t listen to the music.  Not one more time.  If ever again.  But then, P!NK’s Great Escape comes on, and I am a mess.  On the floor mess.

If I knew that price of admission to loving this boy was that I would lose him and have all this sorrow, would I pay it again?  Would I gladly sign up for sleepless nights, tears that stop and start again at weird times, and would I again drive him to LA, and listen to his rantings about his new venture, and how he was going to make a new career move…would I do it?

I will never know.  I will never get that chance.  But I think I would pay it.  Knowing that I would miss his laugh and his yelling at me, and his great big heart, and knowing as I do in this moment that he will never again try to convince me that I should be a cooler Mom to my kids, and that I need to let them go a little bit?  I would pay it every time.  Even knowing that I would have to say goodbye, I would pony up and pay my last dollar, because of baseball and the Navy, and listening to his wedding on a beach in Malibu via telephone, and watching him playing with Jolly, and running the motor boat…These are things I would not want to miss, even though I feel cracked in two.

Grief is grief, no matter who has it.  It’s a thing, man.  It’s going to be with me for a long time.  And someday there will not be a hole in my heart, and I will wake up to Matt showing me signs that he is continuing on his journey.

Until then…I never knew how much love he left me until he was gone.  But I’m gonna look for a way to pass it on for the rest of my life.

 

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
—  Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

 

 

 

 

Full Heart.

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It’s the end of June, and not one blog post.  I’m sort of OVER blogging.  It’s long.  It’s windy.  My writing often goes places that it was never intended to go.  (Note here:  I start this blog with the title “Has It Really Been A Month?”, and I’m certain there will be another thought to replace it.)

The last time I blogged, the Dodgers were 5.5 Games Back of the Giants.  At this very moment, 1.5.

I moved.  I lost the clip to my Garmin, and my running has been spotty.

I joined a Yoga Loft.  I love it, but I’m bored with it.  I bought a Groupon for $54 thinking I would go all month.  I’ve gone 3 times.

I joined a gym near my new house.  It’s all purple and yellow, and you get in trouble if the weights make any sound at all.  I think that I set it off the first time I went.  It’s very crowded, but it’s cheap, and it works.

I work 5 miles from my house.

I found a great vet for Chet.

My kids are into their Summer schedule.  Camps.  One week with, one without me.

I ran.  A little.

Then, something so tragic and unthinkable happened in our family, and all of a sudden, my 33 year old nephew was gone.  Was it only at the beginning of this week?  Yes. Only Wednesday.

I’m not sure what to say.  Or do.

So I ran.  This morning, I laced up and ran.  To the mile 1 stop and to the beginning of the Dry Creek Trail.

And I realized what I always have known about me and running.  I think trails are super cool.  I do.  They’re all nature-ish and hip.  And pretty.  But what I love?  The pounding of my feet on asphalt.  On city streets.  On sidewalks.

And I felt it.  Alive.  Gratitude.

3 miles of pounding heart, full lungs, thankful soul.

In the face of extreme emotional pain…once again…

I.  Ran.