Wednesday, September 20, 2017

When Death Comes Again

I wished I would've been able to tell myself that when Death came again it was going to hurt less. But it didn't.

Sometimes I think having such a huge loss at a young age changed my perspective on life to being more hopeful. My earliest experience with Death labeled him as an intruder. Death had hurt me deep down into the core of my being... now he was back.

We lost my great-grandmother, Birdie Faye Brown, earlier this month and at first it didn't sink in how much this woman had meant to the family. A few of us had some rough patches with her, you see.

But she was still the reason I had a little bit of red in my hair. 

It happened almost 4 years after you had died, Howard. This was a fact that kept circulating in the kitchen at Grandma's. We couldn't believe it. We kept on saying it as if it were supposed to make sense. But of course it didn't.

Right before the funeral I drove with Angel to Kansas so she could coach some little girls that were on a soccer league. They had asked her if Death happened a lot in our family. Her answer was no.

"Right, Kate?" She asked me.

A dozen little heads pulled up in tight ponytails and buns turned around to hear me. I nodded back silently.

There was one little girl on the team with hair as auburn as the maple leaves in our backyard. It made me think of Birdie.

This time with Death was different. It was more like an ache. It was a realization that I was no longer part of a fourth generation that was living. We were three now... me, Momma and Grandma.

For the funeral we all gathered at Tupelo, Oklahoma and Birdie was buried right next to her papa, Aubrey. And there next to them were rows upon rows of family history.  There were Birdie's sisters, Lula Belle and Nino, her momma and some of her cousins.

After the service there was something that made its way through the air. I don't know if anyone else felt it, nor did I ask.

But as I stared down at the graves of my ancestors I thought it was like Birdie was coming home again, after all these years.

Written 9.20.17

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Changing Perspective

I finally started writing the book about you. Is it strange that it took me back to the beginning of this entire blog? It felt just like the first time I pressed the "publish" button on the introduction post.

Perhaps it is because it is a new introduction into this side of me? It's strange to be here, recounting all of this again.

First question that pops into my head that my mentor would ask: Does it hurt less?

I think my answer would be yes and no.

It does hurt less because I've finally began the journey into turning my memories and experiences of you into a book and it will probably feel a lot smoother to write.

It doesn't hurt any less because I still have to recount it. It still feels like pressing on a bruise or stepping on a sticker.

But it's a change in perspective.

I've been told not to put on the editor hat, because I've always been a writer to reread after I finish a chapter. I've been told to just write it out, to write from my gut.

We shall see how it goes.

I wonder what you would say about it all.

Written 7.30.17

Monday, June 19, 2017

After Rain

These muggy summers have me missing the fresh air of springtime. I miss the budding lilies in your resting place where the softest moss grows in place of tragedy.

Sometimes I run out there through the twigs leaving snags in my shirts and my hands feeling their way through brush. I know I get small cuts on my knuckles but it's worth it to talk to you.

I miss those days when the house would be quiet enough to hear the hum of the geothermal system you managed to experiment with. You would curse under your breath when you found that the basement had flooded (yet again). I would chuckle silently hearing you come up the stairs in a huff.

If you were here I'd ask you if it was alright that I had made all these mistakes in your absence. I would ask you what it is I'm supposed to be looking for.

I would ask you for help.

Mom called this my love letter to my father. I suppose it is, really.

I made my peace long ago not to discuss my pain in full detail with people. I never wanted to be a burden, just like I never wanted this to be for anyone who reads it.

I've waited too long again to write on here. I've been masking my pain again.

I didn't tell anyone how painful Father's Day was without you here. The house was quiet like it is around this time of year. I wanted to spend it outdoors with sunshine on my face. I wanted the warmth of the light to warm how cold I felt in mid-June.

How is it we still miss you like this?

I wish there was a storm that would pass through and wipe all of this away. Then there we'd all be after the rain had died down with a warm cup of tea in our hands and gentle laughter as we turned the pages of our books.

Written 6.19.17

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fresh Starts

I can breathe again after months of claustrophobic memories ruling my sleep. They're finally gone.

I am still me, but I'm different somehow. Wiser, perhaps. Maybe a little more safeguarded.

When I let myself be fragile to people who didn't mind hurting me, I had opened myself up for a battle of thorns.

I was growing a black rose garden in my chest, but I've somehow managed to paint them back to red again with forgiveness, watering them with acceptance.

I'm searching instead for kindness and understanding. I think I've seen it too, in a pair of deep brown eyes.

Fresh starts.

It's funny how you never see them coming.

Written 6.3.17

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Letters to My Father 11.22.15

Dear Dad,

Today I turned 19. It was the first time in 10 years that you weren't there for my birthday.

Remember when we used to always pick a restaurant to go to that no one in the family had heard of so they were forced to try something new?

I remember how you used to laugh so secretly. I thought it was such a diabolical plan.

Today feels weird without you here. My favorite part about my birthday became sharing it with you when I was 8 years old.

I would always memorize what day yours would be on before mine because I knew that whatever week of the day yours fell on, mine would be exactly one week later.

One thing I missed when I woke up today was one of your signature cat birthday cards. I loved how year after year you would go and find the craziest looking cat card and write something quite clever on the inside.

I always looked forward to your quips and you always looked forward to my reaction (which was usually faked annoyance). Secretly we both loved it.

So now I'm crying and laughing all by myself here on the other side of the house. Mom is already asleep and it's finally the end of today.

But I can't help but think about how I wish it was last year and how I wished you were still here.

Why did I have to love you so much? Why did you have to be so wonderful?

Written 11.22.15

Thursday, May 18, 2017

One Golden Memory

I know what it feels like to fly.

It feels like being held by your arms and being swung around in circles as we are both getting dizzy and giggling like crazy.

It feels like I'm six years old again in the backyard at Grandma's house.

Caleb is playing baseball outside with our cousins John, Angel and the twins, Tim and James. My hair is bleached by the sun a bright yellow blonde in messy pigtails and my skin is all tanned.

Our fort that we built out of the cardboard boxes that the new couches came in is set up with a sign that says "Home Sweet Home, Wecome" instead of "Home Sweet Home, Welcome."

"Again, Howie, again!" I laugh and scream with my arms stretched out towards you.

You smile back and grab my arms to swing me in circles more and before I know it my legs are off the ground and I'm flying again.

I can tell you love Momma and she loves you back. You are growing on me and I'm growing on you too.

I can tell you make Momma happy. I can tell Momma makes you happy too.  Maybe you use your strength to make her fly too. I want her to know what it feels like to fly.

The sun starts to set and the sky is painted gold with flecks of pink and orange. I am being scolded by Grandma to not sit on the grass because of the chiggers. I don't know what she's talking about though, I am too awe-struck by the sunset.

My golden memory matches the golden sunset when I remember that day. I keep it safely tucked at the back of my brain when I need to smile.

Today I needed to smile.

Written 5.18.17

Parts for Sell

These last four years have been just awful for my personal life.

I have felt loss after loss, picking myself up slowly just to be hit again.

I've felt each sharp stab and ache from the tearing and healing of my heart. With every new betrayal or loss I've felt like I've been auctioning off my parts. 

"You want my heart?"

 Take it, it's a wreck anyway. 

"Do I hear an offer for my lungs?"

That's fine, you can have them. I already feel like I'm drowning by making you comfortable with your ideas about love. 

"Any bidders for my arms and legs?" 

Take them if you must. I've grown used to comforting myself in silence and remaining in one place. 


The year after Howard died we saw who our true friends were. Some people felt very uncomfortable around us. We could feel it even though they never said a word.

It's almost incredible how dull you feel after loss but how sometimes you have this heightened sense of people's emotions.

Maybe it's like this because our bodies are craving more emotions like it used to have before what ever caused it to go numb. 

Not even half a year after the accident happened did one of my close friend's mother tell my mother about how moody I was and how she didn't feel comfortable being my mother's friend since her daughter and I started growing apart. 

She accused me of being jealous of her daughter for getting to move away to college while I would remain at home with my mother.

Mom was shocked. It was like the woman didn't know what kind of impact Howard's death had. I knew after it happened that I would be staying home with Mom. I had to look after her. We were going to look after each other.

The insensitivity of that incident really upset my Mom for a long time.

Some of the others just didn't know what to say, and that's okay. Sometimes, though, just saying something is just what is needed for those who feel lost. 

Almost three years after Howard died I revealed my relationship with a woman to two of my friends that I had since I was a child. We grew up together. We were sisters, until we weren't.

Being bisexual made them uncomfortable around me. Over eleven years of friendship gone just like that.  I was no longer "straight enough" to be a part of their circle. They proceeded to tell me I was going to Hell. They said they didn't believe me or my relationship. They called me a liar. 

One of them apologized to me later and I forgave easily.  Months later I was again slapped in the face by reality of being told again that I was off to the fiery depths never to return. After my relationship with the woman ended, I was still being persecuted. 

What about unconditional love? What did I do to them that was so awful? After all I had loved them unconditionally for so many years. 

I know I'm supposed to give people second chances, I know I'm supposed to forgive. But when people take from you your safety, your compassion and your voice that's when you break in half and can either rise or crumble.

This time I'm not crumbling.

I'm sick of shadowing under you to make you comfortable. I'm sick of being friends with those who take and take just because they know I'm a giver. 

I'm going to be selfish this time. Instead of choosing to help you, I'm helping myself. 

No more. 

Written 5.18.17