death

There is something so dauntingly beautiful about the word death. It is a term that means the end, but I do not think that is entirely true. I do not believe in god or heaven and hell, but I believe that the soul lives on. They protect and look over their loved ones. The souls of our lost ones can be seen in the cotton candy sunsets or in little insects that fly onto our shirts.

Death is sad, very sad, but it can also be something to appreciate. I can find peace that my grandfather’s body is laid to rest, no longer having to fight the arduous battle of poisonous cancer, but instead, his soul is with us whenever we gather as a family to eat. I can find peace that my Grandma Bobby is once again with her husband that passed many years before her. I know that my cousin is fishing with his dog and is enjoying a cold one. I know that my best friend, Little, is enjoying her cat naps in the sun rays that peak through the window panes.

Death still makes me weep and cry, but it also gives me a certain comfort. A comfort that when I or another loved one dies, I know that there will be peace. Whether it is surrounded by family enjoying delicious homecooked meals or by myself relaxing in a tube in Spring Creek, I know that death will be kind.

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pc: me

A Eulogy for My Mother

For nearly the whole of my life, when I realized it and when I didn’t, I was witness to a great love story.

In that story, my mother was fixed solidly at center stage. Her partner of nearly seven decades played an important role, and in the final years of her life he played THE most important role. Her sons and their wives, and their children and their grandchildren, also played key parts. But make no mistake, mom was the star of this story, THE central character in a narrative that spanned time and generations, and exemplified sacrifice and suffering, laughter and joy and the blessings that come from loving and being loved.

And love she did. She loved gently and quietly. She loved honestly and sometimes urgently. She loved us when we deserved it, and, certainly in my case, even when we thought we didn’t. Here’s the simplest of truths: for those of us gathered here today, she was our sun, and we, for all these years, were the lucky few, privileged to be able to warm ourselves in her light.

Each of us has his or her own stories to tell about our time in that light, and I’ve obviously been thinking about that quite a bit these past few weeks. Here’s my take: my mother was my champion and my guide, my caretaker and defender, THE person primarily responsible for the arc and trajectory of my life.

On her watch I learned to read and spell and escape, without judgment, into a complex of imaginary worlds, each of which enriched my childhood and expanded my possibilities. She followed me to grade school, keeping close watch over me in her work as a teacher’s aid. My brothers will say that as the youngest, the baby in the family, this proves that I was spoiled, and there is no doubt they are right.

When in second grade I came home embarrassed because I was the only one in class who couldn’t tell time, my mom sat me down and taught me how to do so overnight. In fourth grade, when I joined the school chorus and then wanted to quit when no other boys joined, my mom forced me to stick with it, telling me that in this family we finish what we start.

Some who didn’t know her well might think her meek, but I actually feel sorry for the assistant high school principal who in my freshman year wanted to keep me in bonehead math instead of Algebra I. He changed his tune once my mom marched into his office and demanded a change be made. That single act, perhaps more than any other, launched me into college and then into the careers that I grew to love, and that to this day define me in the most fundamental ways. Think my mother meek? I pity anyone who ever tried taking her purse from her – she held onto that thing like an NFL running back hugging a football on a touchdown drive in the Superbowl.

She would have loved that the Rams won the Superbowl. She would have loved that people wore red in her honor today. She would have loved that her family came together on this day, and that it was because of her they did so, though if we had truly been listening to her most of us would have been late to this service as we were constantly warned NOT to drive over 55 mph.

That’s my mom, and she belongs to me, and to all us of here, in deep, resonating memory. And with that being true, I can’t even imagine what those memories are like for my dad, who met his teenage sweetheart on a February day at the fair, and who married her two Februarys later, and who made a life with her, and children with her, and in the end tied her shoes and combed her hair and cooked for her and cared for her every need, and made sure – in fact, made it his life’s work – that she lived out every one of her days, up to her last, in the home that she loved.

I told you it was a great love story, and this one ends, as all love stories must, with tears and reluctant goodbyes. Without Josephine, Vincent, and the rest of us, are simply trying to figure out what to do next, and what’s hardest about that is that the things that make us so sad these days are all the things my mom loved so much, simple things that are important to hold onto, the things that even in these heart-wrenching times will help keep us afloat.

Wind chimes and prickly cactus and wild birds. Lighted gardens and golden sunsets and Little League World Series baseball. The rustic tales of Little House on the Prairie and the challenges of Word Search Puzzles and the crazy rollercoaster love stories that fuel Telenovelas. The aroma of candles and the staccato rhythm of Rancheras and the silliness and laughter that pour out of those she loved.

These words are in memory of my mother, who from this day forward will live through us all. These words are in honor of my mother who has always held us together, and who always will.

Why Fear Death?

Death is one of the many anomalies of this world, and with this lack of knowledge comes an innate fear of dying. People have feared death for ages, so to combat this trepidation people created images of afterlives to live on so their consciousness never truly disappears. This is my idea of why heaven and hell were created. Personally, I find more comfort in believing that there is nothing past death. You and whatever your consciousness is just disappears. From this assumption, I can live a generally stress and anxiety-free life, because in my opinion nothing actually carries meaning, worth, or consequence. I’m just here kickin it. I have a firm belief that if everyone thought a similar way, and cared more about living their actual life rather than worrying about their life after they die, then the world would be a happier place. People need to live in the moment, not in the afterlife.

Where Does the Concept of a “Grim Reaper” Come From? | Britannica
https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.britannica.com%2Fstory%2Fwhere-does-the-concept-of-a-grim-reaper-come-from&psig=AOvVaw2nmkjSKaMMzL6vgczA-WTX&ust=1643411148529000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCLiqqOCF0_UCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

Chewy

Going back 10 years ago, a 6-year-old blonde-haired girl went into the rabbit shelter in Santa Barbara (that to this day does not exist) with a determination. As she comes into the outside rabbit room, she laid her eyes on hundreds of bunnies. She walked around the shelter saw some cute ones, but not staying more than a few seconds to thoroughly examine the rabbits until she comes upon an odd pair, two brothers one bright white with blazing red eyes and the other another jet grey. She immediately sat down as began to play with the bunnies. His mother seemed shocked because these two bunnies were not particularly young and not particularly friendly. Not more than half an hour later the little girl left with her new bunnies, chewy and sweetheart. Sweetheart, the white rabbit got his name from immediately coming up to the girl and resting his small head on her equally small foot. While the grey one simultaneously chomping on a carrot, moving his mouth in a circular motion made the child burst into laughter. As the girl began to grow, so did the bunnies. Stages of their life passed by quickly. Skipping ahead two years. The girl left her house with one of the Dork Diaries in hand and walked out to the back yard where the hutch sat. She climbed through the bunny door and sat in the wood and chicken wire cage. The bunnies would hop over to her, lay down, and not move until she got up to leave. Every day, she would read aloud to her bunnies, all the way until she graduated the fifth grade. Going into middle school the bunnies became a second priority, but she still fed them twice a day and would do monthly spa days for the rabbits, which they thoroughly enjoyed, until that next summer came and the white bunny that had glowing red eyes died. She held him in her arms for the last time before her dad took him to the bunny clinic. He had bladder stones. That night the not-so-little girl, her mom, and brother sank onto the living room carpet embracing one another in each other’s sadness. The girl had never truly lost anything to that extent before. But life went on. The girl in the fifth grade, about a year before sweetheart died, had gotten two more bunnies. Chewy lost his bother that day, and at 7 years old decided to keep living. As middle-school continued, the girl grew more distant from the bunnies, she became more interested in drama and “life”. She still took comfort in them and would visit them when she wanted to take comfort in something so innocent and that depended on her. Although she loved all of her animals, she would always hold chewy longer and give him extra carrots. She loved the way he would eat them. Although it did not make her burst into uncontrollable laughter, she smirked and watched until he finished chewing. In eighth grade she lost one of the bunnies and she buried him in her yard. She spent the rest of that day with chewy and the other bunny. Chewy looked happy as ever. His jet grey coat was sprinkled with white. His eyelids dropped slightly but his eyes sparkled the same that they did nine years ago when she got him. Now, skipping ahead to the present day. At 10:13 on November 22d, 2020. The girl’s mom comes in and says that something is wrong with chewy. Immediately the girl, who has turned into a young woman, begins to sob. Running outside she sees chewy laying on his side. Shaking. His head hung low as he tries to stand. She picks up chewy as he lays on his side. Turning him over she sees that he has an infection. Putting him down gently and stroking him in hopes to provide comfort to him as he had done for her. Her mom and her get into the car with Chewy. They decided that the best thing to do is to end his suffering. Knowing that a piece of your childhood is dying is something hard to face. Arriving at the 24-hour clinic, she carries the box to the front door. Her mom fills out paperwork as she sinks into a patio chair looking at Chewy. As a man approaches the door to the clinic, she opens the box and gently strokes chewy’s back and says goodbye for the last time. Standing up. Not being able to stop the tears, she hands the box to the doctor. And at 10:55 pm, Chewy and the girl are separated forever. Turning to her mom embracing each other like they had done so many years before with Sweetheart, they drive home. Sinking into a coma of emptiness, the girl thanks Chewy and wishing him the best where ever he may be going. She hopes that he finds peace and that he is relieved of all pain that he felt.

Thank you Chewy for all that you have done for me. You will be remembered and loved forever.

image found on Pixabay

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Have you ever thought about death?

I have.

Does it happen fast and painless?

Am I laying in a hospital bed surrounded by my family, basking in all of my successes. Nothing but happiness and satisfaction when I look back. I close my eyes with the itention of sleeping. Slipping deeper into sleep. I lose my grip on life. My lungs exhale with my last breath and Im gone.

Is that a sad way to go?

Or am I climbing Mount Everest? Each breath a fight for survival. Each step a step closer to absolute accomplishment. Maybe I started in a group of 15 and now there are two. My other partner ready to make the summit with me. We leave camp four which sits exactly at 26,000 feet. It is a day of oxygen tanks and sheer pain. The wind is generous but the air still spun with little frozen flakes. Were so close. With only a half an hour longer, my partner says he can’t make it. I push on. I make it. The snow had stopped completely. My lungs shrunk and my body crippled with the cold. Sitting down I rest. Absolute peace. The clouds hung below the mountain cutting me off from the ordinary world. Hours pass by after the excruciating journey, I let the cold take my body. The weather changes and the winds pick up. Without enough strength or carry on I sit there letting the elements take me. In my last minutes, all I can think about is the excruciatingly cold pain that rips at my skin. I close my eyes and my body is forever frozen in time.

That would be cool.

But what happens after death?

Do I instantly begin a new life? Do I get re-circulated back into the possibly ever looping birth cycle? Did I die just to die again and again and again?

Or does my energy and soul dissipate into the world erasing me completely?

These questions are unanswerable so I choose not to fear death but accept that it will happen. All I can do is live before I die.

Credit: Getty Images

decomposition

she rots from the inside out

invisible save the yellow in her sunken eyes

she knows more than I ever thought she could

of suffering 

of loss

and like a gnawing in my gut

the unmistakable stench of raw human 

bubbling to the surface

a fetid mess of spoiled hope

the decomposing children

the putrid flowers in a gaudy crystal vase

with glossy eyes

she grips at the double-stitched seam

the edges of her perishing world

casting into the pit

only to reel in rancor

then with bitterness and spite

she reaches into my throat

her bubbling skin

her gold plated wedding band

and she rips from its moorings 

a part of me

cold and clean

(that night I washed my hands with crude oil)

https://www.amusingplanet.com/2019/04/human-decomposition-in-japanese-artwork.html

Sinister

On a train away we sailed,

slowly but at the speed of light,

we jumped into the cage called freedom.

oblivious but fully aware,

we jumped off of the cliff

and landed in a field of feathers.

soft and warm were the feathers

that were plucked off of the once flying birds.

and then came a hand,

and a voice

“come with me to The Good Place,” it said

so we took its hand and followed through the land on fire.

demons greeted us with open arms,

and we drank a sweet, red liquid.

“This doesn’t look like Heaven,” we said

A man with red horns smiled and replied

“oh trust me child, this is heaven for people like us.”

kwanumzen.org

Weakness

Humans are weak. We’re not born to be the fastest runners, the strongest lifters, nor the most adaptive creatures. An infection could kill us, or a virus, even a fall that happen to hit your head. It’s weak to be human. 

I had this toothache for three days last week. It was the infamous wisdom-teeth that everyone has. As soon as I mention it to someone, they gave me the deepest condolences. Everyone would likely have the wisdom-toothache at some point in their lives. Humans share the same weaknesses. 

Pain medicine kept me alive. In those three days, the toothache took away my nice sleep, my patience, and my pride to be human. Advil, Tylenol, Advil, Tylenol again… Every 4 to 6 hours, I had to sedate myself to keep the pain in an unreachable box somewhere in my head while it is ready to burst out of the box at any second. 

Fortunately, my surgery was moved up by the dentists as my teachers negotiated with them, begging for them to treat me earlier. The wait might take 5 or 6 days before the time change. Knowing that I couldn’t overcome a little toothache, that my survival depended on luck and sympathy, I felt so weak, and so rotten.

Three hours before the surgery, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. “Not even Advil?” The mere thought astounded me. The wait was painful. Without using the pain reliever, trying the hardest to distract myself, with a swollen face… 

On the way to the surgery, I wondered what people did to their wisdom-teeth before, you know, before all this technological madness. Did they just suffer? Did they die because of a toothache? 

Humans are weak.

Photo Credit: mystrengthsandweaknesses.com
Music Credit: Music written by Daniel Licht, from the show Dexter, Music played by Symbiose Piano
This song happened to be played while I was writing this blog, I thought it fit the mood

Some thoughts about the Wuhan Virus

A deadly virus has spread throughout China. With now 76 people killed, tens of thousands being possibly infected, death festers upon negligence and ignorance. Some fools choose to travel, knowing they’re infected with this crazily contagious virus. More and more innocent people, children, are dying for that idiocy. 

I’m anxious. Checking the updates on anything related to the virus has become my new habit. The ones I care the most about are in China, and tomorrow they could be dead… all because of that damned negligence. 

But at the same time, I feel sad. What are the infected supposed to do? Sit down and die? How can you blame anyone when the whole plot is sad, when it is your townspeople you’re talking about, when it’s your friends and loved ones’ lives on the line. 

Now I’m in dispute with myself. I don’t know what to write. Thinking that you’re lucky, that you’ve escaped the virus, that the deaths of other people are irrelevant… I don’t know what to think. 

At first you’re in shock, then relaxed, thinking that they’ll have the cure developed by tomorrow… isn’t it the 21st century? Then anxiety hits. You start a journey looking for the antidote for the virus, but there’s no antidote for you.

It’s the Chinese New Year. After a year of struggling, most people finally get some rest. Families get together, friends gather… and boom…

My hometown in the same province as Wuhan City, where the virus first started to murder. Now the province is under lockdown. For that, I pray for my family. 

My mother hasn’t been healthy for a few years. I worry for her well-being, now that a deadly virus walks the earth. My sister feels ill, I hope it’s just a cold…

However, there is a silver lining. And how can one go on without faith?

Today, the first step toward curing the disease with vaccination has been initiated. 

Ok. 

photo credit:gfycat.com

stars in tyler’s toes

tyler died the other week 

and in his death I was forced to remember him

stuck uncomfortably askew into my otherwise sweetly lapsing childhood

the odd cold memory next to geraniums and my dads’ warm hands:

it hadn’t rained in weeks but it would tomorrow

tyler and his friends tore down the highway

the truck old 

the boys young 

and the night infinite

four teenagers careening through space

running out of time

(twinkling like stars, the holes in the bottom of his truck shone into the cab. Twinkling not like natural light, but like reflections from yellow road reflectors and moonshine)

then as Murphy knowingly frowned

the teenagers plunged abruptly into the darkness

two flew through the night and landed bloody on the highway

but he and his passenger tumbled endlessly into that indiscriminate abyss

and someone I hadn’t thought about in years came crashing back into my life

(and those stars that lined his bare calloused toes erupted into vivid supernovas)

credit: upload.wikimedia.org

tyler and I were friends when i was very young. he lived in Kauai and i would visit every so often. he was a terrible influence; he would steal stupid things, and i would watch. sometimes tyler took me fishing. he would torment the fishes by cutting off their fins and sending them back to the water to die bloody but breathing. and i would watch. he told me fish don’t feel pain, but i saw that he did. he grew up between houses, neither one was particularly welcoming. he grew up never believing he had a chance. one day he was watching his younger sister, and i remember sitting where the tide leaves sandy pools on the beach. she splashed and screamed while he delicately folded her clothes placing them carefully on a log. I watched him pull a shirt over her wet sandy head and I saw how precarious tyler’s life was. he couldn’t have been more than twelve.

it barely hurts to imagine him flying down the road drunkenly focused, it doesn’t pain me to imagine his dark brown eyes, and not even the dead teenagers trapped in a combusting coffin bring me to tears

but that little girl