Sponge Analogies Are Dumb.

I was on a video chat with  my brother.  My  mom and dad, along with their dog, are in Wyoming for a short visit with their grandchildren.

My parents needed to be with the carefree energy of the smalls.  I understand that pull. When you lose something so incredibly close, there is the pull from your soul that begs you closer to what was lost.  It’s not a replacement, it’s an augmentation.

We can’t replace what Z gave to any of us, but we can look to the love we get from others to… fill the hole?  It’s not really that.

It’s kind of like if you have a bunch of sponges and take one out.  You can’t get  more sponges, but you can fill the remaining sponges with more water to make them expand.

What am I even saying?  Sponges? How do I explain why having the smalls close by helps?  I can’t explain it, but I understand it in my gut and the sponge analogy is a disaster.  Don’t read that part.

While I was on the call, my parent’s dog ran into the video.  My mom named her Pixie, and Z promptly renamed her Pix-a-poon-a-roonie. You have to say it fast, all mushed together.

I went to say something about Pix-a-poon-a-roonie to my neice, but it got caught in my throat.  I couldn’t make it come out.  I called her Pixie and moved on.

That crazy nick-name was Z’s thing – we all just copied her silliness.  It got stuck inside because it felt *off*.  Like I was intruding on her space, her thing.

I find myself setting up mental alters to her memory.  I don’t have the photos with candles in the dining room, but I do have these… mental spaces(?) that I can’t go into.  Things she did that I can’t do without her.  She’s not here to listen to me copy her silliness or shine, it’s no longer a fun thing we did that I now do on my own; Now it’s invading something I can’t name. I can only feel it. It’s the space she left behind (that can’t be filled with a water-filled sponge, apparently).

I can’t call my dog “Taco-Belly-Button”.  I can’t loudly proclaim a pajama day and swing my arms in the air.  I can’t sing my banana song (which I did just to prod her into telling me that I was not as funny as I think I am).  Those were her things, no mine.  Doing them without her seems irreverent.

But I do have the dogs here that she loved.  And I can hug them a little tighter and call them by their actual names.

Also, do not try to explain your shitty feelings with sponges.  0 Stars.  Would not recommend.


The Staggering Energy of Jumbles

I need to clean my house.

I haven’t really cleaned it in a month.  I mean, it’s more or less picked up, but it’s not clean.  I wouldn’t be embarrassed if one of my good friends came over, but I for sure wouldn’t invite a neighbor in to chat.

It’s a weird thing about the energy of this situation.  I’ve got the energy to go to work, but doing anything productive after work is really out of the question.  The thought of moving back into life and doing normal adult things is daunting and gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach.

When I had Z around, she took a fair amount of energy.  Often in the form of sarcastic groans and dips into my wallet.  When she passed, all the energy I was giving to her seems to have gone with her.  Logically, it makes no sense.

At this same time, I have an overwhelming need to get a second dog.  Part of my identity has been “mother of two”.    I have this weird *something* that drives me to maintain that… feeling(?).   If I can’t have two daughters, maybe I should have two dogs?  Unrefined emotion is hard to communicate.  I need to displace that energy.  Maybe I should get into pottery instead?

I don’t have the energy to do productive things, my id is compelling me to get into a  second dog, I don’t have clean pants, I’m either sad or frustrated or overwhelmed or in denial or I’m none of those things because I’m distracted by restaurant food.

I’m not going to get a second dog.  That’s a terrible idea.

I have always wanted a standard poodle.  I love poodles.  5 stars, would definitely recommend a poodle.  But my house is kind of gross, my car needs to be vacuumed, I want to make 16 kinds of bread on Saturday, I absolutely need to find out about pottery classes, I for sure want to spend the entire day on the couch watching Bob’s Burgers,  I have to research dog lessons, I can’t look into her room, I need to look for the items that she borrowed from friends and return them, I have to finish my thank you cards, maybe I need to pull up the carpet in my family room, I hate my couches and I think I can find better ones on Craigslist, I kind of abandoned learning to crochet and I’ve wanted to start trying again – especially now since Z and I learned together two Thanksgivings ago, and I do love making onion soup, and I need to get rid of like half the things in my garage, but none of the things that Z had staged to go to college and I need to come up with a good name for a dog.

When people ask me “how are things going?” the truthful answer is I don’t know.  I don’t know because I honestly can’t tell. Nothing is sorted out.  I’m just mush on the inside.

The energy that drives my life is a confused, rambling, hot mess.

This whole thing is dumb.  0 stars.  Would not recommend.  Except for a horse-sized poodle that I’m not going to get.

Conversion Therapy

It is now 2 days shy of a month since she’s been gone.  28 days. Elements of life are starting to fall back into place.  Work is more or less on schedule.  I get up and go to bed at reasonable times.  I have not started making dinner or doing dishes.  My S.O. (protector? companion?) works those details out for me.

It’s the permutation to a new normal.   A tiring process.

The daunting task of this reformation project I have going on is working grief into peace.  They are adjacent emotions; They work in accord.  Peace is the more mature and worldly older cousin to grief.  Grief is the primal mess of emotion that wells up uncontrollably.  Peace is the delicate flow that has lived the other side and emerges with fabulous skin and hair.  Grief is Ouizer and Peace is Clariee.

When I was small, I hated marshmallows.  I still do. But one of my friends showed me a trick where you pull and pull and pull on a marshmallow until it turns into taffy.  I can get on board with some taffy.   Peace is taffy adjacent.

I’ve walked into her room a couple of times.  Droplets of peace form.

I’ve gone to group therapy (twice!).  Another spot of peace emerges.

This process is arduous. I suppose it’s not unlike trying to change the color of swimming pool water with grocery-store food coloring droppers.  Eventually the change will come.

I’ve only really ever consistently prayed for one thing – peace.  Peace for my children, peace for myself.  Peace to calm the turmoil around those that I love.  Peace to usher in whatever strength we need.  It will always be the constant prayer of my life.

Steel Magnolias

We all have those movies that we go to for background noise, mindless comfort, or general warmth.

Steel Magnolias is off my list.

Which is a bummer because I’d always wanted to age into Ouizer. I fancied myself turning into a grumpy old woman that wore mismatched clothing and fur coats off-season and have a stinging wit.

Now I’m M’Lynn.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved Sally Field, but to me she was the least relatable character in the entire movie.

I get it. I want to hit something.

The Middle Distance

She’s always in my mind, bouncing back and forth, an unregulated tide on my emotion.

At the front of my  mind are the things that need to be accomplished right now – my work, the state of the house, the rooms that need to be cleaned, dog hair on my clothes, am I turning right or left, what am I going to eat, where are my keys.

When I’m immediately occupied, she sits just into the middle distance.  She’s there, the perpetual thought that hums just behind whatever activity I’m engaged in.

It’s been just over three weeks since I last talked to her.  During the in-between times, her voice crashes into the foreground of my occupation and I fall into the emotion delicately perched at the top of my throat. My nose warms.

Sitting on my desk, I have the phone number for my contact in the housing department at Wayne State.  He has made it his personal mission to cut the red tape of dis-enrollment for me.  I have the phone number of Express Scripts.  I need to cancel her prescriptions.  Three sympathy cards that were mailed to work.

They trigger her movement from the middle to the front of my  mind. My nose warms again.

After 7 years, my late husband went solidly into the middle distance.  He’d sway into my brain only most days – and always sweetly.  Something he’d love, listening to my current partner (rock?) talk to his brother on the phone.  His memory came with a comforting glow.

She has brought him back into sharp focus.  Her passing complicated the distance from his. I hold them together in my heart. My nose warms.








The Edge of Love

In my house I’ve always made it a habit to fill the walls with everything I could make hang from a nail or hook or removable sticky situation.  I like the texture it adds, I like the interest of the things.  My walls are fun to look at.

When I was headed up north for her funeral (Life Celebration?) I took all of the family photos off the walls.  Pictures of her with just her sister, pictures of her by herself taken by her sister.  The entire family.   A Lake Superior photo of just the three of us taken shortly after I buried my husband.  That was a one of my first good days.  They were all fun days.  I especially love the black and white photo strip taken at an old-school photo booth in St. Louis.

After the week was over I brought back a double-walled produce box of all of my photos to go back on the walls.

I can’t put them back – I’m not ready to have the constant reminder.  My baby won’t be part of any more photos.  This is all I have for her whole life.  I won’t have anything else to add.  Her constant childhood looking at me.  She was on the precipitous of adulthood.  I mourn for what she will miss.

I have to put them back. My fractured family needs her here.  She can’t go.  She won’t fade.  She lingers with us.  I have to put them back.

After two and a half weeks, my walls are in the order they were before.

I’ll continue to add new photos as time envelopes our lives.  The photos will always be a little lighter.  I’ll always find a space where she should have been standing.  There will be an edge of light I’ll look for and find, because I need it to be there.

I stand on the precipitous of love.  0 stars.  Would not recommend.



The weight I carried on my left hand when I was married to my late husband gave me a feeling of comfort.  I didn’t need to look at my rings to feel them.  The weight was comfortable.

When I took them off for good after he passed, I mourned the loss of the weight.  My hand felt weird. The balance was off.  I didn’t have rings on any fingers, and the comfortable asymmetry was omitted from my day-to-day life.

When Z passed, I went to the jewelry store and purchased three necklaces.  One for my mom, one for my other (remaining? living? present?) daughter and one for me.  They were all different – shape, engraving, metal.

My necklace is heavy.  It’s a measurable weight on my neck and the silver charm sits on my chest like a ballast to my emotion.  It gives me a sort-of equilibrium.

I don’t shower or sleep in it.  I take it off at night.  I undo the clasp and the emptiness I feel on my throat gives tangible account to the missing in my life.

My neck feels empty – she is missing.

At night, my fingers crawl across my bare neck, my throat, my chest. I search for what’s gone.