SHATTERED!

 

As much as I wanted to stay oblivious, secure, and in my cocoon, the despicable, brutal and callous murder of George Floyd changed all of that in 8 minutes and 46 seconds. I felt my heart stop and my breath quicken and my soul shatter into a billion pieces, as I sat in absolute horror, fear, fury, and despair as a human being was killed before my eyes, before our very eyes.

My mind refused to accept the cowardly, despicable, inhumane, dispassionate, and racist, hate filled act of a human being pressing a knee onto a man’s neck until his life was extinguished.  I sat immobile, tears streaming down my face, dripping endlessly onto my chest soaking my shirt, heart  wrenching sobs escaped without warning, I couldn’t absorb what my eyes were seeing and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  When Mr. Floyd, was begging for air… Air!…. and grasping, pleading to live, breathlessly, mournfully, tragically called out for his mother, I doubled over in horror and pain, clutching my stomach, ….and I wept. I felt the pain a mother feels when her child so desperately needs her and she is not there. How could this happen? In public! With no one intervening? Where were the police? How could this be a police officer who is sworn an oath to protect and serve? Why couldn’t anyone stop this person from executing a man before our very eyes? Again?! Still!! 

The cocoon I had erected around myself and my family, shattered into a billion pieces. My false sense of security and safety was violently, and indiscrimantly stripped away. I was catapulted, tumbling into a world filled with hate, racial injustice, and violence, again. A world that unfortunately, never seems far away. Racial hatred is always bubbling just under the surface, now it is erupting all over our country once again, stoked and encouraged. The embers have never died down and with the cold blooded murder of Mr. Floyd, I was reminded that no matter how far we have come, the road is still long and steep. Frankly, it’s exhausting, tiring to the bone, to be here again, in my lifetime and in my children’s lifetime. To have to reiterate the demands of my ancestors, to gain liberty, equality,  justice, and freedom for all, wears on the soul. 

Words, creativity, faith, and optimism abruptly faded away into the background. I was swept further backwards on the current of racial inequality, violence, and fear. My thoughts became jumbled and the respite I had struggled to create for my family, amidst another frightening and daunting challenge; this pandemic, became bleak, isolating, and fear-filled, dark began to swallow me up. I stopped believing in the good of my fellow Americans. I felt hopeless, tired, angry, helpless, and demoralized. Hate was winning.

I started to breathe anxiety, anger, and despair through my pores. I found my breath jagged and shallow, my heart rate banging in my chest with fury, sorrow, and pain. I couldn’t sleep and the drum beat of race baiting and the fire of hatred kept growing ever bigger, obliterating the light and breeding and igniting fear. Helplessness, hopelessness, and hardship were the salty taste of the tears I wept endlessly, as I tried to provide my children with the tools to live through an ill-fated encounter with a racist officer of the law who might be capable of such a heinous act. At the same time fighting to instill in them the belief that most police officers take an oath to protect their citizens and the communities they serve with dedication and respect for all. Trying to find the balance and the faith to believe the words I speak, the prayers I pray, the faith I surround them with, that will hopefully keep them alive and safe from hate and harm.

Even as I write this, I know it’s a fable and an untruth that I speak in a desperate hope but no longer with the utmost conviction. Knowing all the while, as I sit here sharing my thoughts, it is nothing but a fervent, mournful prayer that all mothers and fathers of children of color make each and every day before sending our beloved children out to face the world. Sometimes, like with George Floyd, we know it might not even matter.  That even as we have raised our children well, that the color of their skin may ignite a racist officer to deny them their very right to breathe until they breathe no more. My body quakes with the uncertainty, fear, and unfairness of the burden I lay at their feet. It is not a burden they should have to bear. No one should have to bear it! 

Even having to accept this unseemly and contradictory reality,  I along with all loving parents of children of color, Latino, Asian, Native American’s,  and LGBTQ, know this is no shield against racism. Mr. Floyd’s murder was a stark and vivid reminder of their/our continued vulnerability. Still we pray, organize, galvanize, and continue to prioritize the need for the peaceful protests to continue so that our children may know safety, security, freedom, and justice for all…someday. That the content of their character may someday outweigh prejudices of those who loathe the color of their skin.

Finding my equilibrium, my sense of optimism, creativity, and faith…has been a herculean task. I fumbled, unsure and unaccustomed to being so unmoored by the destruction of my country, that I love so much. I have been struggling to find a sense of the future where I feel safe, where my children are safe, and that is familiar to me. Where manners, tolerance,  respect, and civility, at least have a prominent place at our societal table.

When the protesters started and continued to march for George Floyd, for justice reform, for the equality  and safety our mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends, I was able to steady my heartbeat and take a deep restorative breath. Once again, as is our history’s not so distant past, people of all colors rose up to demand that police brutality, profiling, redlining, gerrymandering, and the indiscriminate killing of black people, people who are different, would no longer be tolerated. Having witnessed collectively unwaveringly, and tramatically, the murder of Mr. Floyd, we as a peaceful and law abiding society could no longer deny that the targeting, terrorizing, and murdering of black people by police officers, could not, would not be accepted. Bearing witness to this shame has galvanized the nation and helped to restore my faith again.

I know that the road forward is exhausting and steep and that hope is fleeting in the face of such immeasurable pain and repetitive quests for equality. I am aware that the struggle will need to continue until the embers of hatred, injustice, and racism have been extinguished for good. Maybe not in my lifetime, but surely in my children’s lifetime, I pray. 

I will do my best to find the bright spots and to blaze vibrant color through the tapestry that is my world. I will pay homage to my family, a microcosm of this multicultural country, and I will celebrate our differences while remembering that it is those myriad of flavors that make my life rich and fulfilling. I will retreat from the darkness and let the light drive hatred, racial animosity, violence, and intolerance into the background. I will find the vibration for healing, promise, acceptance, and love. I pray that this time we can succeed in putting out the fire of hatred and blanket our country with liberty, justice, fairness, and grace. I refuse to succumb to the hate, pain, and sorrow that threatens to envelop all of us if we don’t find the strength to resist the haters and elevate one another to our greatest ideals. I will continue to urge myself to create art and to find beauty to dispel the dark and invite joy, light, faith, and love back into my life.

And lastly, I will vote like my life, your life, our lives, and our country depends on it.

Be Well.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Goodbye 2018!

 


I’m happy to say goodbye to 2018. It was a year of hard learned lessons. Some I suppose I should have learned a long ago and some I’ve struggled to accept despite all the evidence. In the end denial could only take me so far. Resistance is futile.

I have learned about pain so deep that it sunk into the marrow of my bones and settled into the fiber of my being. For me, grief is a solitary, isolating sorrow. A muted sense of melancholy that enveloped, cocooned, and finally consumed me this year. I couldn’t seem to shake it and finally succumbed to the pain, heartache and loss. In the end, that was my saving grace, acquiescence. The only way out was through the labyrinth of sorrow. I felt tired, weary, my spirit ragged and exhausted. Unexpectedly there was a stirring, a slight shift in the air. Which was slowly replaced with a thin veil of hope. A stripping away of the grief. Like a string of lights, each igniting the next light and so on until a path was finally illuminated. A way out.

Now it is time to unwrap myself from the silken tentacles of grief and begin to live fully again. So adieu, 2018. It was a rough and tumble ride. I’m grateful for the lessons along the way but sadness is heavy. It weighted me down and the only way back to the surface was to accept what could not be changed.  Life isn’t meant to be lived in the shallow end. 

Welcome 2019! The road was dark and deep but I have promises to keep. Pardon me, I think I see joy ahead.   

Riptide…

 

It’s been months since I’ve written and I wish I could have been able to express what I was feeling. I confess, my grief just wouldn’t allow me to do much else but ponder, ruminate, and contemplate…the desolation of nothingness and nowhere. I just didn’t have any words or ideas to communicate. My spirit had folded in on itself and I was working on putting one foot in front of the other, and mimicking some version of myself.

Mourning is an all-consuming process and it refused to ebb and flow on my command so finally I surrendered to melancholy and sorrow. I gave myself permission to activate my copilot, but inside my mind, I vacillated between frenzied hysteria and eerie, lonely silence.

For me grief reminded me of swimming in the ocean when I as a kid. I would dare myself to swim out as far as I could, where the water was dark and cold. My teeth would chatter and my skin would wrinkle and prune and with my eyes wide open, I would submerge my head under the mysterious swirling black water and despite the burning from the briny depths of the gauzy green sea, I would open my eyes. Under the misty water, the silence was soothing, aquatic life floated by seemingly oblivious to my anguished presence. There are no human sounds,  emotions are muted, distorted and insignificant. Looking up at the sky through the kaleidoscope of the foamy waves, the sun can be seen floating, glittery and hazily in the distance like a diamond. I felt removed and insulated from life. 

And just like when I was a kid, the need for air would overcome me, and with my lungs bursting, I would be forced, gasping and scrambling back to the surface.  I realize now that grief had clung to my skin, my cells and my heart, and swimming in the ocean allowed the water which had blanked, and for a while sustained me, began to recede. 

When I emerged this time, I found I no longer wished for the fickle darkness of the enigmatic ocean. I decided instead, to let the wind and brilliant sunlight soothe my soul and heal my grief laden spirit. It allowed me to release myself from the riptide of grief that had consumed me.

So with renewed vigor, I am swimming back to shore and to life with renewed energy. That’s the magic of the ocean. Despite its beauty, it can be treacherous and desolate. But if I relax, surrender and float, it’s like a beacon that always leads me home.

The shore…

Struggling to the Surface!

Grief and loss are emotions I would prefer to experience from afar. For now, it hasn’t worked that way. Sorrow has seeped into my cells and attacked my gratitude, joy, light, love, and peace. I find myself struggling to find that place inside me where optimism and hope have always lived. My friend, Pam, recently reminded me that with all my internal struggles and trying to process it all silently, instead she thought I needed to “write it down and put it on the page.”  So Pam, this post is dedicated to you for your faith in me that I have words to say while my spirit broods caustically. You reminded me that I don’t need to have it all figured out before I share it. Maybe just maybe sharing it will release me from the depths of sadness and pain. Here goes.

Losing my aunt, losing period, sucks. I’m not a dark soul so being immersed in pain and shadows disturbs me. I have found in this darkness a resting place for everything I Fear most. In the murkiness and depths of sorrow, I discovered there was a place for me. A place I have chosen to visit but fear I may have stayed far longer than I had anticipated. It’s tentacles which once comforted me in my grief, have now reached out to entangle me in its web. Like swimming underwater, sounds are muted, light is dull, sunshine is hard to find and my breath escapes in small bursts. I have tarried here too long, way too long. It’s time to swim to the surface and let the warmth of the sun remind me of all that I am grateful for and all the good things and wonderful people that have loved and supported me now and always.

I’m sure that most people would be surprised to read this as I do an amazing job of putting on a good face. Underneath it all, I can’t help but remember what I’ve lost. Loss, lost, gone, buried!! These  words reverberate in my head. Why can’t I see all that I have gained instead? When does the hurt subside?

I lost a person who truly saw me, warts and all. A person who helped me laugh at myself and to share who I am without the walls and bravado that steadied me through chaos. A person who I took for weekly, monthly, year after year, (30 or so years), of car rides to nowhere, while I worked out the person I wanted to be and not to be. We would call each other and all we had to say is, “you wanna go for a ride?” I would pick her up and we would ride for hours. No destination, no particular plan, except of course, therapy. Perhaps it was sitting side by side that allowed me to bare my soul. Perhaps because she was a therapist who know how to get under my defenses and let me know failure was a part of my learning curve, not to be deemed a weakness. Perhaps it was because she would laugh with her whole body and the world would right itself for a while. Or perhaps because she loved me and was proud of me and told me so often. She loved with her whole being and believe me, if she loved you, you knew it. Perhaps because she loved me unconditionally and I treasured that and miss it more than words could ever convey.

These are gifts I hope I repaid while she was here on earth. I know she knew how much she meant to me and that she gave me permission to share my love, worries, and hopes with her without judgement. She never judged me. She cajoled, reasoned, and occasionally would yell at me to get it together, and always with a hint of humor and grit.

A month or so after her death, I found a voicemail from her singing me happy birthday. God how I treasure that message. I pray someday I can listen to it without weeping and feeling sorry for myself. I know she’s in good hands now and her body is healed again and strong. I know that she is telling jokes in heaven and caring for all the underdogs who need a champion. I know because she was my champion.

So while I kick my way to the surface, I hear her cheering me on. I am reminded that while loss is a part of me now, so is gratitude, for I had one of the best friends anyone could ever wish for. I know she lives on in me and remains one of the brightest parts of my soul. I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that she is telling me to get it together and to focus on all the wonderful things we did together and that someday we will ride together again. Godspeed Maureen. I love you to the moon and back again.

 

 

Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.