Ken, my son who lived with me, killed himself the day after Christmas. I’m still in shock and disbelief. I’ll write more later..
February was a difficult month, physically. Had some setbacks, saw a lot of professionals in the medical community. No one knows what is causing my problems, so they don’t deal with it. In the meantime, I just sort of ‘exist.’ Since I don’t get out, except to keep appointments, my life is rather dull.
I’ve lost a couple more friends. Each time this happens, I’m filled with fear and dread. Don’t think I need explain.
The brightness in my life has come from reading and writing. I’ve joined an eight week writing class on Writers On the Nert called ‘Shadow Writing,’ which is digging deeper to help us get in touch with our authentic selves. We’re in the sixth week. I find the classes help motivate me to write. I haven’t posted here for a while, but if it wasn’t for the class, I wouldn’t have written anything at all. At least I have produced something for the class.
But the big news is that my last name is once again officially that of my husband of 51 years. My lawyer called me today. Now I just need to get a new social security card with my ‘new’ (old) name. Hooray! I can’t say how relieved I am. It’s like coming home. The other name felt so foreign and uncomfortable. I can rest easy now.
I walked forty steps with my walker today. Breathless afterwards and had to rest, but it’s a beginning.
The past few weeks have been brutal, physically. Today was more of the same but I decided I can’t go on like this. I have to do something! So I pushed through discomfort and fear, clenched my teeth and just DID it! Jenny walking beside me. The sun is shining, the weather is mild. I’m alive again!
Yesterday was your birthday, Scott. You would have been 50. Thinking today was the 10th, I’ve thought of you all day, trying to picture what you would have looked like and what you would be doing.
I can’t believe you’ve been gone 14 years! It doesn’t seem nearly that long.
You once told me that if you killed yourself, I’d get over it and go on and live a happy life. You were wrong, Scott. I haven’t been happy since you did that unthinkable act. Yes, I’ve gone on with my life. What else could I do? And there have been some moments of joy, not in living, but in nature.
I have not felt happiness in a long time.
Last Thursday, Beulah, one of my closest friends died unexpectedly. I’m still in shock. Then Connie, another close friend, was admitted to the hospital with clots in her lungs. Wednesday, your brother, Ken, found out he has a hole in his heart. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s wrong with him.
I’m not so well myself.
All this makes me wonder about life, it’s purpose, and what happiness really means. And what difference any of it makes since it all ends and is repeated and ends again.
I resent it that we have to die, that we go through life with ambitions, dreams, desires, failures, accomplishments and then have to go and leave it all behind. We take it with us, as if we had not walked on this earth, breathed in the air, watched the grackle with the broken wing, read Mary Oliver or Thomas Merton, seen “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” three times or eaten that piece of cherry pie. Two hundred years from now, none of it will have mattered. Sometimes I think of those who lived hundreds of years ago and I honor them in my heart.
This day is almost over. I’m relieved. Next month, we have to get through the anniversary of John’s death. And so on. It seems that every month, there’s a hurdle to get over.
I’m trying very hard to find pleasure in something. To experience faith, and hope, and love. To enjoy giving while losing so much. To find a reason for it all.
I’ve been a giver all my life. What happened? The well has run dry.
This morning I ordered the 2013 Poet’s Market from Amazon. I’ve made a promise to myself to send out at least one poem a month. I haven’t tried to publish in literary magazines or small presses in years. I hate the business end of it and would rather spend the time creating but it IS nice, once in awhile, to see my poems in print along with other poets. Also, at this time in my life, sending out the poems gives me a purpose, something to look forward to, whether the poems are published or not. My life has become so humdrum, so void of freshness or excitement. This will be an adventure.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is on the TV tonight. Scott loved that movie. He watched it every year. I’m surprised at how just knowing its on fills me with dread. It’s been 13 years since Scott killed himself and I still can’t watch his favorite programs, look at his photos, his handwriting, anything that reminds me of him. He loved sizzlers, Seinfeld, Star Wars, roast, rice and gravy.
I often wonder what he would look like now, if he’d be married, if he’d have children. I loved him so much. I still can’t believe he’s gone. And I miss him.
I’ll be glad when Christmas is over. Next, I have to get through his birthday, January 9th. He’d be 49. The hurt never goes away.
I celebrate the maple tree
its late fiery brilliance
birds who stayed
when others followed
the sun and stars
gray squirrels snuggling
in winter nests
spotted rabbits sleeping
grass damp recent rains
leaves torn by the wind
dogs walkers drivers
dashing down Luster
this bright sun room
where I sit
wrapped in velvet
eating toast and
my dog curled up
next to me
the thick richness
of this day
lifted from the bones
of a dewy night
(c) Mary Harrison, 11/22/2012
Happy Thanksgiving to my followers and friends!
I’m really into food. Mostly healthy food. I think about meals a lot, like I used to think about boys when I was young. Breakfast. Lunch. Supper. What do I want? Wht do I have? What do I need to order? Food is about the only pleasure I have left.
I’m also into nutrition, nutrition that will benefit my physical conditions—low sugar, low fat, low salt.
So I order cookbooks and books on nutrition from Amazon– Dean Ornish, Joy Bauer, Dr McDougall. I watch the Food Network on TV. I have my own page with Dr Weil online. It’s personalized and includes health tips for my particular problems and the latest health news. I get a daily menu which includes three meals a day and a library of meals I can choose as substitutes.
Today I roasted vegetables (my own recipe) for lunch and made hummus for supper. I substituted peanut butter for the tahini because it’s healthier and, surprisingly, I don’t taste the peanut butter in the finished product.
Making those two things and cleaning the kitchen used up all my energy for today. And I did most of it sitting in a wheelchair. The things I fix these days must be quick and easy. So I’ve had to put away most of my old favorite recipes.
I tried Meals on Wheels but the meals aren’t all that healthy or good. So, it’s a struggle, but I can still put a meal together; and though what I do now is far removed from what I used to do in the kitchen, the food I cook is much better than having it brought in. And I’m grateful for that.
When I worked at Newington Veteran’s Hospital as a psychiatric nurse, one of my duties was to teach classes on suicide to medical personnel—nurses, interns, aides, and students. I informed them that those who were serious about ending their lives were often secretive about their intent. And that the male’s method of suicide was usually more lethal than the female’s. Guns or hanging vs. drugs or self-mutilation. I advised them of warning signs: withdrawal, change in personality, loss of interest in most activities, looking depressed, poor work or school performance, change in sleep patterns, alcohol/drug abuse, talking about death or suicide, careless in appearance.
Then my husband and I retired and moved from Connecticut to Missouri. Chris had separated from the navy, was married, living in Texas; Scott, divorced, was in the Air Force in California; Ken was working at a television station in Connecticut and John, married, a recent survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, was working as a computer analyst in Connecticut. Separated and scattered, we were all involved in our own interests. We communicated by phone, internet and regular mail.I took my retirement as an opportunity to seriously follow my life’s dream—writing. I took a few creative writing classes at a local university and then some online.After Scott separated from the Air Force, he lived with Forrest and me while pursuing a degree in computer science. Forrest became a master gardener and his interest turned to our yard. I spent my time writing poems. After graduation, Scott took a job at Hallmark in Kansas City.
About that time, a few physical problems I had worsened and I began thinking about the uncertainty of life. I started a memoir about me and our family for my sons to read after my death. I always regretted that I hadn’t asked my parents for more information about themselves. I know very little about my ancestors. A bonus, for me, in the writing was that going back and looking at my life in retrospect changed my perspective about me, the family and life in general.
I was involved in my writing project and welcoming John and his family who’d just arrived from Connecticut for a visit when a call came from Scott. He’d driven himself to a hospital in K C because he was suicidal. I knew he’d been depressed and had even overdosed (that’s another story for another time). A few months before his call, we’d brought him to Springfield and admitted him to a hospital here. He was discharged after a few days. Forrest, Scott and I then looked for a house for him here. I wanted him close so I could keep an eye on him. I gave earnest money on a house he liked, but he went back to KC and as far as I knew, he was doing fine. I was keeping in contact with him closely by email and by phone and had no idea he was suicidal.
After the call came, Forrest and I drove to KC to see Scott in the hospital. We boarded his cats and took care of some other business for him, stayed overnight and saw him again next morning before returning to Springfield to be with John and his family. I’d planned on returning to KC after John left, but a few days later, Scott was discharged from the hospital and went back to work. I thought he was doing fine. Two days before he shot himself, he talked to me about plans he had for buying a house and the new vet he’d found for his cats.
Thirteen years later, I still can’t watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Scott’s favorite Christmas holiday movie, look at his photos, or think about him for too long. I haven’t come to grips with the fact that I, who should have known, did not recognize the warning signs that my son was in trouble. I should have been more alert, not so distracted by my writing and other things that were going on. I’ve learned, too late, to treat each moment as if it was the only moment, and to give it all I have.
After Scott’s death, my heart couldn’t finish my memoir. Sadly, instead, I published a memoir in memory of Scott, and, later, one for John who died of colon cancer.
How beautiful and sacred life is! And how fragile! We can’t afford to be careless. I must live with my inattention for the rest of my life and suffer the resulting heartache.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (tamu.uloop.com)
During WW II, when I was in my teens and searching for love, I met a soldier at the USO, after dancing with several others, who seemed like a perfect gentleman. We danced all evening to Harry James, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey. At intervals, especially after high energy dances like the jitterbug, the soldier brought coca colas to me for refreshment.
On the sidelines, an army recruiter I’d dated a time or two, watched. As the night wore on and people, one after another left, my soldier and I became the last couple on the dance floor. I was ready to leave with him when the recruiter told my female friend that the soldier I was with, had been spiking my colas all evening and to not let me leave with him. She convinced me to go home with her as we had planned. Looking back, I’m pretty sure the recruiter saved me from a bad experience.
Sometimes I wonder how most youngsters make it in the world. I had other experiences which turned out okay but could have gone in a different direction. Today I want to honor and express my gratitude for the guardian angels/saviors in my life. I believe we all have them, whether we realize it or not, and, also,we ARE them, or can be.
Maybe one thing I can do the rest of my life to make it worthwhile is to feel responsible and care for all of God’s creatures, when the universe asks me to, even when it’s inconvenient.