Someone told me,
“It gets better!”
That statement, uttered carelessly,
lacks a distinct element: truth.
What they should have said was,
“It gets easier –
to give up,
to understand pain.”
But honesty is in short supply.
It doesn’t get better
because the outside remains
an intrinsic part of the equation.
Life is limbo,
constant pressure, bent
over backwards, watching
people scoff with each
passing moment you remain.
What changes is our ability
to fool ourselves
into thinking this position
is comfortable. Our brains lie
to us; we lie, in turn,
to our corporeal companions.
We save the truth for ghosts.
Those of our past, of our future,
and we slog
onward; toward an end,
any end. Toward the whispers,
the promises spoken–
hopes, desires, better.
Someone told me,
Boxes. Boxes, and dust, and old furniture.
In the end, we are gone, and we leave behind the remnants of our lives for our family and friends to sort through and make sense of. What’s left is just stuff, but that stuff can speak volumes about who we were when we were still breathing.
She was clearly someone that valued knowledge. There were seemingly endless boxes of books, and most of them were informational in nature. Sure, there were novels, but mostly there were books on health, politics, and culture. She learned because she thought it was important. Years of teaching had cemented in her the drive to glean what she could from the world around her to expand what she knew, to better herself.
Along with the ones filled with books, there were boxes of paper. Every sheet covered in words, her words. Stories, poetry, family history, some typed, some handwritten with meticulous care in her unbelievably flawless print. She was prolific, to say the least, and she left behind a life’s worth of work. There were short, silly tales written for the children in her life next to heart-wrenching poems from the days after she lost her beloved husband. Every letter chosen thoughtfully. Every word carrying her soul and delivering it to the world.
Next to her bed, and inside of boxes, we found names. The names of people she loved, written over and over. Like a penned rosary, they carried her prayers upward. Her love for her family and friends was clear. The time she spent alone, she spent thinking of those that she held dear, and when she left, the evidence stayed behind.
Her voice and laughter wafted out of every box as we cracked it open. It may seem silly to get sentimental over old, cracked Tupperware or a few tools, but they were so her. She is the only woman I know that would keep ordinary pliers and a hammer in a lovely, woven basket. She was unique, and every item she owned fit her perfectly.
It has been an emotional experience. No, that isn’t strong enough, it has been a consuming, weighty, humbling privilege to be the one to lay to rest the last vestiges of her life. It has left me utterly spent, and yet, there is no way it is something I would have missed.
It is an honor to have been her great-niece, it is an honor to have loved and been loved by such an extraordinary woman, and it is an honor to take care of her this one, last time.
There are hard things to talk about, and then there are impossible things to talk about.
Impossible. That’s what I’m tackling.
This has been stewing for a while. Months. It needs said.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought about ending it. My boyfriend (at the time) was supportive of what I wanted. He left the ball in my court. I decided I couldn’t live with the guilt I was sure I would feel if I had an abortion. This was my choice. I’m not making comments on anyone else. This isn’t a political post.
Having Jenna was a great idea. The best idea. She has made me a better person from day one. Holding her, I knew that I wanted to be a mom, and I knew I wanted to be the best mom I could be. Enough so that I wanted to have another baby. Again, best idea. Cole is an insanely cool kid.
This could come as a shock to a lot of people, but I truly enjoy being a mom. I think parenthood is great! I get that not everyone wants to have kids, and I think that’s cool. Just, for me, being a mom is my favorite.
A few years ago, the father of my children and I stopped cohabitating. The choice was not mutual; it was mine. However, over the course of the past few years, we’ve both come to agree that this is best for our kids, and for our family.
You guys, this wasn’t taken lightly, it was a hard thing. I agonized. I struggled. If you don’t believe me, ask my mom. Lois is not a liar, so you can trust her to give it to you straight. I didn’t do this off cuff. It was well thought out.
To the people that have told me what they think I should do differently, your comments have been taken into consideration and pretty much ignored. For those that have taken it upon themselves to tell my children that if they pray hard enough, or want it bad enough, their mom and dad will get back together someday, I don’t appreciate it. Please stop. You are helping nothing and no one.
If you know someone going through a breakup, or something else that is hard, be careful with what you say to them. You can’t know everything about their situation, so please, reserve your judgement and words.
Now, I’m going to end this with a FAQ, because that’s the only way I can think to handle the following. I get a lot of advice and comments from people about my kids and what it’s like to split custody of them. I can’t address them head on to the people who say them in the moment because I get all stammery and it’s just too hard. So, here you go.
Q. Doesn’t it hurt not to have your kids with you every day? I couldn’t do it.
A. Of course it does! My kids are my world. I love them as much as you love your kids. It isn’t easy to say goodby to them on Sunday, but here’s the thing, their dad is a good dad. He takes excellent care of them. I’m not a horrible selfish human, and I’m glad to share with him.
Q. Don’t you feel guilty for what your choice is doing to your kids?
A. No. Except when you make it sound like I should, then I feel horrible. Next question.
Q. But seriously, aren’t you worried? (I get this a lot. A lot, a lot.)
A. Seriously, I’m not. They are loved. They are taken care of. They are strong little goblins and they are going to be okay, because we are going to do our best to make sure they are okay.
Q. Why didn’t you try harder to keep your family together.
A. You have to be kidding me. How do you know I didn’t?
Q. Are you worried your kids will follow in your footsteps?
A. Nope. Here is how I feel about their futures: I hope they both grow up able to look at their lives as analytically as possible and to make the best decisions that they can even when situations seem completely impossible. If they come to a place where they have to make the decisions that I made, I hope that they can do it with strength and dignity.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s one of those things that needs a day to remind people how important it is, but that should just be something that we think about all the time.
When I was a kid, I went through a period where I slept with a knife under my pillow. I wanted it to be there in case I got the courage up to just make my brain stop torturing me, to make my heart stop hurting. I was teased a lot when I was younger, and there was a time when the only people that I considered my friends abandoned me with harsh, inescapable, written words. I was desperate enough that it was hard to see past the immediate pain and into a future.
Some part of me didn’t want to die, because I showed my sister the notes that had been given t o me that had taken me to my breaking point. I told her how painful it was, and she told my mom. I was angry with her for weeks, but ultimately I’m glad she went for help for me when I was too broken to do it myself.
Through the years, the darkness has come back and told me to give up. Always, I have had someone that I trusted enough to say something to. My friend Jess gave me the number to a suicide prevention hotline when we were in junior high. I never called it, but knowing it was there was grounding for me. It gave me the courage to go on. Others let me tell them how my problems felt too big to bear. Never once did I run into someone that belittled what I was feeling. I was lucky that way.
Somehow I came out the other side unscathed. I got to grow up. I’m so grateful for that. There were people around me that helped prevent me from ending my life. Thank you to all of you.
Now, I’m going to ask a favor of everyone that this reaches: Be there for those around you, even people you maybe don’t know. Think about what you do and say. Slurs toward the LGBTQ community end lives. Telling women that they deserved to die instead of the baby they aborted ends lives. Hate speech, careless words, seemingly harmless teasing, memes that spread like wildfire through social media, telling people they should “die in a fire“, all of these things have more power than you could know. They have the power to be the tipping point for someone already on the edge.
Please, love one another. Think before you speak or repost something on facbeook. Remember that you have the power to save lives by simply being present and kind.
Finally, if you are out there and you are feeling lost, know that you aren’t alone. So many people have been in your shoes, and it is possible to get through. Call someone, anyone, and tell them what you are going through. Be open and honest. There are people out there, me included, that care that you make it through today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Life is livable one day at a time.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
The Trevor Project:
The GLBT National Help Center Hotline:
Friendship is tricky. It requires patience, acceptance, and an infinite amount of love. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I feel others forget. This is my heart. I needed to say all of this. I’ve felt a bit loopy on the friend front recently, and I needed to get all of this out. It’s here as a reminder and a promise…
I promise you that I am always here. Sometimes what we have may require work, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, so am I.
I guarantee you that there is nothing that you can say that will make me love you less. You are the sum of many parts, and none of those parts make you unlovable.
When it comes to you, I’m Switzerland. Completely neutral. I’m a safe zone. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is saying, I will listen to you, hear you out, and do my best to support you.
As we grow and age, we will change. I promise to respect the changes you make, and not ask you to remain the person you were when we met.
I am not perfect. I will never claim to be so. I will do my best to accept fault when I hurt you, and I will endeavor to undo any harm I cause.
If you ever find yourself needing an ear to gab at or pour your soul out to, mine is available all day, every day. I would rather lose sleep than find out that you couldn’t find someone to talk to when you were in need of it.
I will do my best to treat you fairly. I will try my hardest to never judge you. I will do these things without expecting the same in return, because my friendship doesn’t have a price. It just is.
Know that you are loved. Know that you are thought of constantly. Even if we haven’t spoken in years, you are in my heart, and there will always be room for you there.
You make me better, and I’m grateful for that. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being you.