Personal

Airing Laundry

Sometime after the 9/11 attacks, someone started a blog. In this blog, they wrote about someone they lost. Someone they loved. Someone stripped away from them. Each day, they wrote about this person. Maybe my memory has romanticized it, but I believe it was a widow writing about her husband. Or, just as easily, a widower writing about his wife. A mother about her child. A child about their parent.

None of that is the point. The point is, this person, this stranger, who lost someone they loved, decided to write a poem a day. I don’t know when the blog started, and I can’t remember when it ended. This was years ago. And any internet searches lead me to dead ends.

And it doesn’t matter if I find the article that sent to the blog in the first place. What made me remember was a comment on Facebook. (And coincidentally, it just so happened that the 18th anniversary of 9/11 was mere days away.)

I posted a “preview” picture of my last post. Sometimes, I like to make the announcement a new post is coming up and share it on my Instagram, which, of course, is connected to my Facebook. My cousin saw the photo and remarked, “Why are you so morbid? Everything is a learning experience in life. Some to forget some to remember. However yes the past should stay in the past but not to be forgotten. Move forward never backwards. Just saying little cousin.”

Imagine calling someone morbid and thinking it’s a teachable lesson. Mind you, this is a person who airs her dirty laundry on Facebook as if hanging fine art in an exhibit. (And, yes, I see the irony of me talking about this while chastising her for doing the same thing.) A person who talks about past transgressions as if they happened an hour ago. Who rants, raves, and spews venom about her sister; although, sister isn’t so innocent of herself. In fact, the pair of them are the reason I no longer accept friend requests from family.

Imagine the poet who wrote daily about their loss having a cousin who told them, “Why are you so morbid? It happened. Move on.”

If my year started in August 9, 2018, it can be charted with the people I lost. The night that a car accident took the lives of three wonderful people. The day I learned a college friend passed away. And the exclamation mark, my death of my estranged father, someone I only had days to make amends with.

Yes, people pick themselves up. They dust themselves off. And they continue. And, yes, life throws at us moments that can only make us stronger. And that was my point in the last post.

It’s the lifting yourself up. It’s the dusting your jeans off. It’s looking at your pasting and wondering how you got this far. It’s about looking at the people who made you who you are. The moments that shaped your being.

How am I morbid? Because I remember the days chasing trucks that look like my father’s? Because I still have nightmares of a phone ringing past midnight and entering emergency rooms to see the mother of my child in pain? Because the words of the ER nurse echoing in my head? (“She was the only survivor.”) How I remember the smile spread across my father’s slacked face when he realized who I was? How I spent the next few days watching him slowly slip into that good night? Because I remember how my heart dropped when I entered his room to find that he’d left before I got there? And how I refused to believe what was obvious.

These are moments that still haunt me, and so I write about them. And I will continue to write about them until I don’t. I’m sorry if you find that morbid.

Writing & Writers

The Day The Whole World Went Away

...in his voice I heard decay

I had that dream again.

The crescendo heard a world away – Mackie awoke to the sound. Sweat – cold? – slicked his body. Beside him, Angel – who slept soundly even during the loudest storms – traversed parallel dimensions. Cobey should’ve called by now.

Autumn was in the distance, Mackie saw looking out the painted window. A shit job. Make a note never to allow anyone other than myself to create an artificial night.

“Come back to bed,” the voice said. “There’s nothing to see here.”

“It’s like I relive it every day,” Mackie said. “And I cannot erase it from my memory.”

“Come back to bed,” the voice repeated. “It’ll be okay when you wake up.”

Shot glass by the typewriter spilled over. A few empty bottles of pills – dietary? sleep aids? over the counter medications used as narcotic substitutes? the fuzz was cracking down on things like that. you couldn’t buy anything without showing an ID and the pharmacist writing down your information down in a little book.

Freedom with a price, isn’t that what they said? After the horrible sounds. Were we ever free in this world, or was that all imaginary?

“So where were you?” The question asked around the world. Followed by, “What were doing?”

“I’d just awaken,” he’d say. “It was hard for me to sleep, even in those days. I closed my eyes and just tried to drift off, but something kept calling me to turn on the TV.”

“And?”

“And I saw the footage on a continuous loop.”

“What did you think?”

“Must really suck to work there.”