What kind of a person
paints over a helpless worm?
How long could it have taken
to throw it back into the yard?
Painted to the wall with
no way to pull its tiny, body free
smothered in the paint.
What kind of person gets upset
over the murder of a worm?
Me and this grasshopper.
He came to the memorial
But he couldn’t stay long.
Fifty years ago my older brother, Billy, came home and found me drunk out of my mind.
Billy, you made me walk the neighborhood, on a snowy night, kicking me in the butt every time I stopped.
You said you were gonna walk me sober. It would be another ten years before I stayed sober, but you gave it a damn, good try.
I remember crying and crying and as I sobered up, asking you, “Where do we go from here, where do we go from here?”
Big brother, you were my first hero.
Mom wrote in my baby book that when I was a year old, I followed you everywhere, pulling your hair and teasing you, wanting you to play with me. And you told her that it was okay.
“She thinks I’m her toy,” you told her.
You taught me to ride a bike when I was six, and you set me free at the top of the hill that I felt was a mountain, on Pratt Street, because you knew I was ready before I did.
You taught me to ice skate on the Shawsheen River, in spite of my fear, because I always knew I was safe with you. You would catch me before I hit the ground.
I was afraid of everything back then, but you always took my hand and shared your courage.
I don’t know why you were so brave and strong, living with a father who tried to crush you, but thank God he didn’t succeed, and you were my hero.
Me and Cherie and Suzanne will never forget the year you saved Christmas from Dad’s rage. You came and you even packed up our Christmas Tree and drove us all to your house.
You threatened my first love’s physical existence when he left bruises on my arms. He laughed about it afterwards, but he stopped grabbing and shoving me, at least until I married him. That one’s on me.
You saved my daughter and my grandsons on a really bad night, when you could have walked away.
You and I stayed close for so many years, and it was only in the last few years that we lost touch. I had a meltdown and I shut out most of the world and if you were a casualty of my depression, I’m sorry.
We just stopped calling each other.
Maybe we got lazy, maybe we just took each other for granted, maybe we just got old.
Maybe I thought you would always be there when I needed you.
Now, you are so sick that you can’t even hold your head up for more than a minute.
The doctor said two weeks to two months.
We faced-timed today and I watched your courage once more, as you struggled to talk, to think, to connect.
We reminisced about our trip around the old neighborhood on that snowy night so long ago.
“Where do we go from here? You kept asking me that,” you said.
“Well, I guess we’re there now,” I said.
Once more, your courage shines through as you prepare to leave this world behind.
I told you I’m putting you in God’s hands and you could like it or lump it.
“Go for it, ” you said. A few weeks ago, you would have given a different answer.
I will play with you in Heaven, dear brother. Save me a place in the family mansion.
You taught me so many things, but this…this is the hardest lesson of all.
As we are blooming bright, beautiful, young and strong, remember that young and strong will fade, and the real beauty is you and it comes from the inside out through the petals we show the world.
When we leave this world, we must leave behind memories of our strength and our beauty for our children.
Today as you water your blooms and trim your branches, remember, what you do today is what your children will remember tomorrow.
When you are gone, they will have nothing but memories so make each memory a beautiful one and as to the ones that are filled with pain, because we all have those too, try to heal them before you go.
Love does not conquer all but it is a wonderful balm to put on wounds.
Nothing, nothing is stronger than a mother’s love however screwed up and twisted she may be at times…she loves you with every inch of her being.
Your mother’s love for you is the beauty, even the faded, dried-out twisted blooms have beauty beyond compare and the dried-out blooms have value if only to remind you of her beauty when she was in full bloom…
As you bloom today, prepare for what you leave behind. tomorrow. What have you planted in your garden?
What needs to stay and what needs to go?
Don’t hold on to what has already died.
Nurture the living blooms while you have time, because to each flower, there is a season and to everything but love, there is an end.
Jeanne Marie, 2015
Recently, my nephew lost his battle with the family illness, alcoholism.
He was the oldest grandchild in our family and the very first baby I fell in love with, a passion that has stayed with me ever since. My three siblings and I have never lost a child, so this is a first for us and we are struggling to accept that he is really gone.
Although I was only 12 when he was born, my sister asked me to be his godmother. He was a gorgeous baby and by the time he was a year old, he had long blonde curls all over his head. I loved those curls. When he got his first haircut, I was devastated. I begged his mom not to cut his curls, but his dad thought he looked girly and he insisted on the haircut. I remember being so mad at both of them and I remember crying for days over the loss of his baby curls.
My sister lived at home when he was born, so he and I spent many nights snuggling and playing. I remember his colic and I remember all the nights I held him close to my body so my warmth could relax his hard little tummy, always walking him because he would cry as soon as I sat down.
He knew he had a problem with alcohol and he fought this disease with all his might, with every ounce of strength he had and he never gave up the struggle, fighting his demons until the last day.
My sister, his mom, used to dream that I was lost and that I was being dragged under in a swamp filled with snakes and monsters. After I became sober at age 23, she never had that dream again. I always say that she and her church friends prayed me sober against my will but the truth is that God does have a plan for each of us and He alone knows the reasons. We were not able to pray my nephew sober.
Yet, our human nature wants answers. God must get so sick of people at the Pearly Gates asking, “WHY?”
I want to ask, “Why me and not him? Why me and not my daughter?”
I prayed my heart out for my nephew, talked to him for several hours about how sobriety was possible for anyone, if it was possible for me. It just wasn’t in the Plan for him.
God doesn’t give us everything we ask for and He did give us Free Will. He also says no and maybe. My nephew was a no, my daughter is a maybe.
Right after Robbie’s death, my sister said that if his death saved one person, it would be a comfort to her. That happened so quickly that my head is still spinning. Another nephew was at home, sick, while his mom was at my sister’s house.
He is a recovering drug addict but lately he has been drinking, a lot. Beer with shots of vodka, the same poison that killed his cousin. He got nervous after he found out about his cousin because his eyes were turning yellow and his urine was dark brown. He went to the emergency room the next morning and he is now in intensive care. His spleen is swollen and his liver is inflamed. His cousin’s example made him go to the hospital and hopefully, with God’s grace, he made it there in time. (He is home and doing much better now.)
Life. It is what it is and it’s not always a picnic in the sunshine.
But if we could only remember that we make our own sandwiches and that we choose the drinks that we pour down our throats, that we pick the poisons that we put into our bodies, if we could remember that God can only work with what we give him, that He won’t force Himself on us, if we could remember that we are given choices, maybe there would be more addicts receiving a yes and less addicts destroying themselves and hurting everyone that loves them.
My sobriety is the greatest gift God ever gave me and I don’t know why me and not my nephew, why me and not my daughter.
During the coming days, as I try to comfort his mother, my sister, and as I mourn the loss of this man that I have loved since his birth 48 years ago, I will pray for courage, I will pray for strength and I will continue to pray for my Maybe Girl.
You are welcome to join me.
we were young
we were wild
we were free.
We were hippies
we were kids
who didn’t know
would not always be.
and we fought
we went separate ways
but we had three children
who got lost in our maze.
People can judge
and guess who’s to blame
but it was me and it was you
who held our love in the flames.
Pushing the line
until it was erased.
I stopped running
you no longer chased.
We burnt our love
like a steak forgotton
on a hot charcoal grill.
We said goodbye
but we also said
I love you
I always will.
The last time
I saw you
Our lips touched
One last time
I held your familiar
you’ll always be mine.
I shook my head no
but my tears said yes.
Tears fell from our eyes
as I walked out the door.
She changed after he died and God knows, she was strange enough before his death, but then he died and she melted into nothing, shuffling down the hallways clothed in someone else’s skin and we all realized that we were losing her and there was nothing to be done because we could see that her soul had fled with him into the death tunnel, even as her lungs continued to breathe and her blood continued to pump, even as she slept, as she walked, as she drew breath; yes, this woman in our mother’s body was now a stranger and even though we had all suspected that she still loved him as much as she hated him, we really didn’t know and we couldn’t have imagined the depth or the width of her self-imposed restraint and we never saw the chains that she had wrapped around her feelings, no, not until we saw how the grief broke her, watched the sorrow loosen her clenched pain, saw the anguish strip away her self-control, screaming silently as her imprisoned mind flung itself free, breaking like a child as she mourned his passing, regretting what could have, should have and never would be because now, all hope was annihilated as they lowered his body into the ground and we cried for him not knowing we should also be crying for her because he was dead and she was alive and he was gone so it was over, nothing could ever be fixed, repaired, restored or renewed and death, his death, the death of her first love, our father’s death, had written the final chapter of their insane love story, a fatal romance that had self-imploded thirty-five years ago, but did not die until the day he passed, dead and done and so this, his death, this was the tragic end of a waltz that should have been sat out because the band had played the wrong song, composing a doomed allegiance from the very first chord and we should have known, but how could we have known that his death would drain the spirit from her, crush her so totally and now, now we have to decide…shock treatment or lobotomy?
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