Mortality

My grandfather is in the hospital. Yes, the one that lives with us, the one who has just been an asshole of a human being to my mother and father, the one that I just kept hoping would die.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little happy when he went to the hospital with pneumonia, something very strange to catch at this time of year. I was. It was almost a relief, that maybe we were finally nearing the end. Of an endless stream of nurses, of my father muttering under his breath every time the nurses had to move my grandfather, of my mother having to sacrifice her weekends to care for a man who was entirely ungrateful for her help.

And so, he is in the hospital, nearing the end. He chose hospice care. We think that after years of fighting so hard to hang on to life, he has finally accepted that he is going to die, in his own cynical way. For a psychiatrist, it’s weird to me that he has such a hard time processing his own feelings and emotions, but maybe that’s not too unusual with psychologists and psychiatrists. My mom and I are only able to guess at what he’s feeling, but we we think he has finally come to accept his own death.

So Mom asked my sister and I to visit him in the hospital, just in case he doesn’t come home. I walked in there, slightly annoyed, afraid, and hungover from celebrating my graduation. I have no connection with this man and I’m terrified of hospitals, so my own feelings manifested in annoyance. Just one more thing this man will put us through.

What I was surprised to find was how I actually felt sad when I saw him. Not pity, but sad. I won’t miss the man, but there’s something so haunting about seeing someone who is, for all intents and purposes, dying. Leaning across the bed, eyes closed, a once towering man now shriveled and deflated, struggling to breathe easily. At the end of his life, despite how hard he has clung to this world.

Mom and I wonder why he has clung so tightly. He claims to be a good Catholic, so shouldn’t he be excited for heaven? We think he is still fighting his own demons. Maybe he realizes he wasn’t the best person while on this earth, and he is afraid of judgement, should it come, should it be real. It just makes you wonder.

It was the first time I had been in a hospital for someone who is dying. I have been when my sister got cleated during the only softball game I went to, I’ve been to Hershey Medical Center when my cousin was hit by a truck, I have been for my own personal health issues, but never for a dying person. There’s something so private, that silence just hanging in the air. No one knows what to do or say, because what else can you talk about? You try to make everything seem normal to give that dying person a sense of peace and, well, normalcy. But that elephant in the room is there, clear as day, as obvious as the IV in his arm.

I do not have any strong feelings towards my grandfather (not positive ones, anyway). But you never want to see someone suffering, someone miserable, someone who is clearly afraid of the next adventure. It’s sad, seeing someone who is at the end of his life. It is.

At first, it was strange to me that these emotions were even touched when I have harbored such negative feelings for him all these years, but the more I think about it, the more I understand it’s normal.

Despite the fact that I don’t like my grandfather, I would have to be heartless not to feel something at the sight of a dying man. It is the first time I have ever really seen him any kind of emotionally vulnerable. And it’s tough to face death. It’s hard to face your own mortality. To think that one day I will be on my deathbed too, and what will I have made of my life then? What relationships will I have sown? What memories, should I still be lucky enough to have them, will I reflect on? Will I be able to let go of my life with grace, or will I be just as afraid?

I can’t quite put words to what seeing him today has brought me, but I think I needed it. In a way, I feel I have come to peace with my feelings towards my grandfather. And I didn’t know I needed that, but I did.

Until that moment comes, I will be there for my mom as she processes her own confused feelings for what will inevitably be the death of her father. I will sow my relationships, thankful that I have been blessed with so many loving people.

Thank you. Love.

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Nightmares

So I usually go through about a week of nightmares after not having them for a long time, and this week has been nightmare week. I typically get pretty freaked out by my nightmares, especially if I wake up and it’s still dark. I’d love to know what happens to my brain when I have these nightmares because they are always so emotionally charged, be it paralyzing fear or heart-wrenching sadness.

So, I’m kind of obsessed with Game of Thrones (after rejecting the fad for so many years), and earlier this week I had a nightmare that was GoT-esque but it also involved my family. I was fighting beside my cousin and Jon Snow, and my sister was fighting in the same battle elsewhere. In the battle, Jon and my sister both died and I was consumed by this overwhelming sadness. I woke up in tears for only the second time in my life (that I can remember, anyway. The first time was after my first cat passed away and I dreamed that he was still alive and I remember crying in the dream because I was so happy, and I woke up crying in my then-boyfriend’s bed. He didn’t do anything to comfort me, by the way. Similarly, he did nothing when I cried over that cat dying… I should have known then, right?).

The most recent nightmare was a little more plot-heavy. The government was infecting people with this zombie-like virus that was killing people off very quickly, it seemed very end-of-the-world. But we knew that the government was responsible for it, so to combat it, people were essentially suicide-bombing government buildings or else sacrificing themselves in other ways (hoping I don’t get flagged by the CIA or FBI here). I was kind of trapped in this room while most of it was going on, but when I was finally let out into the newly desolate world, I found out that just about everyone I cared about died trying to take down the government. My sister, her boyfriend, my best friends, my coworkers, all gone. And in that moment I was fighting back tears. I knew that they did it so that I – and other survivors – could live and be happy, but I suddenly didn’t want any of that without them. I think my parents were even still alive, but the thought of having to tell them that my sister was dead was dreadful. I didn’t want to live in a world without these people. I woke up, thankfully not in full-on tears this time.

It was just very odd, very eye-opening. First, I wonder why I keep dreaming that my sister dies. Then, I marvel in the fact that it was so easy for me to consider suicide or martyrdom without these people in my life. I have never admitted to having any kind of suicidal thoughts (other than the dramatic¬†what would people do when I’m gone?¬†teenage bullshit), so it was interesting to see that my own motivation for living just depleted when I learned that these people died. It was just strange to me.

Corri asked me if I had anything on my mind, anything unusual stressing me out. Nothing out of the ordinary, honestly. I think this is the least stressed I’ve ever been about school (senioritis!), I’ve been taking care of my mind and body, I haven’t fought with any of my friends lately, and it’s the same old with my love interest. I haven’t been eating or drinking before bed. The only thing I can think of is that I was recently sick and maybe this is an aftermath of my weird fever dreams.

Or maybe I’m just overdue for some kind of mental/emotional breakdown. I’ve been telling just about everyone for two weeks that I’m overdue, which I guess is true even though I don’t have mental breakdowns that often. Sometimes you need a good cry – one that doesn’t involve your closest friends and family members dying.

Anyways, it’s late, I’m tired. I started a new book the other day, one I wasn’t totally sure about, but it’s gotten pretty good lately.¬†Slade House, for anyone who’s interested. Also, if anyone knows anything about dream interpretation and can help me out, that’d be cool, comments are welcome.

Goodnight, blogging family!

 

Bartops, Grief, and Good Karma

All I want is to be at the Main Cup tomorrow night for jazz night. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Joe Bonamassa, and it just makes me want to go sit in on some live music that doesn’t require jumping, headbanging, or trying to impress anyone with my dancing. I just want to drink a beer and chat with people while listening to good music. And, funny enough, as much as I hated working jazz nights before, some of my more profound, appreciative-of-life moments happen on jazz nights as the music settles down.

Imagine this: you’re finally off your feet after a few hours of non-stop going, you slide into that tall chair, slough the bag off your shoulder, and one of your coworkers gives you your drink for free. The bartenders are very appreciative of the work you do, they give you a smile, try to make sure you’re okay and not exhausted, even though they still have another hour or so of work ahead of them. You have a sip of your drink, pull out your phone, and start to relax. In the background, the guitar is vibing to the constant rhythm of the drums, and you find yourself absentmindedly tapping your feet against the bar’s footrest. You look up, glance around at the buzz around you, the old regulars laughing, most of them already drunk, none of them paying attention to you (and you prefer it that way most of the time). The lights are a soothing yellow, Christmas lights still dangling from the beams. It’s cold outside, but you don’t have to worry about that yet. You wait for your coworkers to get off so they can join you, and you know they will. You don’t know what you’ll do tonight, if anything, but something almost always happens, be it heading to Bower’s or to another bar. You’re on the younger side of those who will join you, a fresh 21, but your coworkers don’t care. They include you on invitations to continue the party at their houses, tucked into the mountains 15 minutes away. Some of your favorite coworkers are in their thirties and have children, but they make time for you, they enjoy talking to you, and you can open up to them. They’re like mentors, not parents, but also friends. The whole scene is blissful.

That’s what I get to look forward to when I’m home. I like to romanticize, sure, but I think it helps me to be an appreciative person, to take in the little things, to notice and love them. I think that’s why I’ve been having such a good bout of karma recently, and I find it easier to smile at the sky, like my arms are so light I just want to reach to the clouds in celebration of being alive, of basking in a humid, cloudy day in March. I wouldn’t say I’ve found a vigor for life, but I’ve found an appreciation.

I will say, that bar held a couple important nights for me. Obviously, my first shift drink for turning 21. It’s where I “snuck” beer from Cliff during the Christmas party in an attempt to stay drunk (succeeded), it’s where I’ve made some of my closest friends, where I’ve networked many of my relationships. It’s where I’ve gained confidence in myself, in my communication skills. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my coworkers, all around that bar.

I don’t mean for this to turn sad, but there’s something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately that I feel I need to share, but I don’t know who to turn to. I know that whoever I told would be sad and sympathetic without knowing what to say, which is fine, that’s all I could ask of them. I just want to express it so someone will understand.

Another few important moments that happened at Main Cup included my cats. When we had to put my first cat down, on Thursday, October 2, 2014, I had to work almost immediately after – not a smart move on my end. I remember holding my little boy against my chest and just sobbing while my dad dug the grave. I have never cried this way in my life – not during movies, not when my sister left for college, not when I was cheated on. It was just bone-shakingly sad.

After we buried him, I went to work, trying not to cry. It was the first death I’d ever really had to deal with, and it was the cat I’d had since as long as I could remember (I was only a few months old when we got him), and he was mine. We bonded, he always slept with me, it was so sweet. My coworkers were nothing but sympathetic, and I think my being teary-eyed freaked them out a little because I never show that much emotion, or if I do it’s always happy. It was hard to go through, and I think part of me will always be with him, but it was nice to have my Main Cup family there.

This past September, my other cat passed away fairly unexpectedly. She was old, I think she got bit by something, and it was a long, painstaking ride for her. She seemed like she might pull through, but her meows were just haunting. I was headed home from college that Thursday to work and see her, help her if I could, be there if she passed.

Mom called me on my way home to tell me that she had passed the night before. It was such a dagger to the heart. She couldn’t have waited another day for me to be there. For me, it wasn’t selfishness; I was beside myself with the grief that I hadn’t been able to be with her when she went, as I was for my first cat. It still upsets me that she died alone, that I couldn’t be there.

So I went to work, plastered a smile on my face, tried not to think about it, tried not to cry when my coworkers gave me their sympathy hugs. It worked better than the first time. At the end of the shift, I sat at the bar and tried to put some of my feelings into a Facebook post, I think I may have also written about it on here somewhere, but I also didn’t want to be sobbing at the bar by myself while I waited for everyone else. My friends came and sat with me, and I forgot about it for a little while. They wanted to go out, and I just couldn’t put it off any longer – I needed to see my little girl.

I went home, tired from the shift, from the week, from crying in the car. The house was dark and quiet. I hung up my things, kicked off my shoes, and made my descent into the basement, where Mom told me she had wrapped the little one up in a blanket. I flicked on the lights, caught between feeling anxious and at peace (strangely enough). I think I was scared of seeing her.

I peeled back the blanket, and there she was, my best little girl, 16 years old. And I just sobbed again, silently this time. I couldn’t pick her up yet, so I just petted her, her body already cold and stiff. Cursing myself for not being able to be there for her in her final moments. I needed her to know she was loved. That I would miss her sleeping on my outstretched arms as her awkward sign of affection. It was nice to have that private moment. I found it beautiful and meaningful, no matter how much grief filled the air.

Now, with no pets, I feel like my Main Cup family is what I really have to look forward to when I return home. I’m blessed to have them in my life, to have their love and support.

Thank you for sharing such a personal moment with me. It’s cathartic for me to talk about it, to acknowledge the beauty. And this is just a casual reminder that if you are going to put your pets down, please for the love of god stay with them and let them know how much you love them.

Emanating love

 

Solemn Joy

Break was over in a flash. Those 12 days flew by in a blink of an eye. I was genuinely sad that I would be returning to College Park so soon. I was rarely in my house long enough for me to be annoyed with it, I feel like I didn’t get a sufficient amount of time with my friends (though I got to see all of them in one break which was great — all it took was 12 days).

I took care of my friends animals, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by so much fur. They were all so loving, and having each of her cats purring on my chest gave me the joy of what I think a mother feels when her child falls asleep on her. I guess I’m more of a cat person, and that shouldn’t be a bad thing. I love both species so who cares.

Some unexpected turn of events occurred over break, some that shocked me to my core. My friend’s dad killed himself right before Christmas, and I can only explain it as horrifying for all. I was told right before one of my shifts, and all I could say was “oh my god.” It was so intense, so pure and terrifying. I thought I was going to cry, and I questioned why I would feel so strongly for a man I had only met once. Looking back on it, I think I was moreso crying for my friend. The heaviness in my heart as it yearned to be with him, to support him in such a devastating time.

Our friends bound together in support. Our coworkers put together baskets. Everyone I talked to either went to the viewing or the funeral.

It was incredibly solemn that Tuesday. Dressed in my mom’s black dress, because I didn’t pack any funeral clothes for my trip home. Why would I? My heels clicking through the church, sun trying to shine through the stained-glass windows, I sat with some of my closest friends, and I experienced something with them that I never thought I would have to. I watched as we all dealt with the grief. We all cried while trying not to cry. We listened as our friend delivered a strong, inspirational eulogy for his own father. We watched as Scott’s friends gave their speeches. It was a strange moment for me to watch grown men cry and learn that they cry like I do, that they can’t talk, they have to take sharp breaths, they have to stop and swallow that rock hard lump in their throats.

The entire time I sat in that church, I questioned. I’m not a fan of organized religion, though I believe in a higher power and I’m comfortable with calling it many names, including God. Is this how this man wanted his funeral to go? Was he really saved when the bible says suicide is a horrible sin? I tried not to get too philosophical, tried not to roll my eyes out of respect for this man and his family, my friend.

I questioned whether my friends were trying not to cry in the same way I was. I wondered whether one day we would be up there, delivering eulogies for our friends well before their time on this earth should have ended. As I sat wedged between Nick, Will, and Roeder, I wanted to hug them all. I wanted to touch them, hold their hands, hug them close, but I thought they might think I was being too emotional. Looking back, I should have done it. But I know that we were all trying to make it through without having an outburst or a panic attack.

When it was over, I could see Roeder’s red eyes, Will and I wiping our noses, sparing small smiles for each other, trying to revert to our natural, goofy states in a way that almost felt inappropriate. Nick remained dead-eyed. Sam (who performed a beautiful piano solo) and some others found us, all teary-eyed too. In that moment, I tried to be solemn out of respect, but I think it’s amazing the power of positive energy. How some people’s innate nature is to be happy, to make others laugh. I think it’s the most beautiful power in this world, to laugh and be happy even in the face of such devastation. In that moment it was nice to know that I have that power within me.

When we ventured to the basement for food, we all clung together, sitting together so tightly at those plastic tables that it almost felt like lunchtime in high school. A few of us didn’t say much, but it may have been the hardest I laughed all break. I wanted nothing more than to hold them all there, keep them so happy and lighthearted. And I hope that is a moment burned into my memory forever, when we were so young, too young to experience a death so close to our hearts, to our circle, and everything felt raw and desolate yet happy.

We found our friend, said our goodbyes. The rest of the day went by in a bit of a hollow blur. I cried to my sister afterward, still processing the day’s emotions. The rest of break went by without a hitch. We all kind of huddled closer together after that.

And now I’m back in College Park — too soon, I feel, but I look forward to the promise of Friday, when my friends will surround me again. My Spanish class isn’t the worst it could be (though I did study 233 words for my exam tomorrow). It’s nice to only focus on one class right now, and I might be in for a rude awakening come spring semester. I’m taking some time for myself. I’ve been doing yoga every day because I can’t bring myself to do more than 2-3 aerobic workouts a week right now.

This blog wasn’t exactly what I thought was going to happen, but it felt too important not to share. I’ll get back to you later.

So much love

Rest in Peace Scott

Salt and Sanity

What a crazy month. If I’m not doing homework, I’m in class or at the gym or trying to come home to work and see people. It’s been a heavy weight, hard to bear. But today has been good; I’ve gotten a lot done today.

***

I’m still having a hard time without Misty. She was always there for me when I came home. She was my only motivation for spending the night in my own bed. Now I feel very alone, swimming in a sea of empty blankets every time I try to sleep. It’s much less restful.

I haven’t been able to do everything I want to when I go home. I overbook. I’m grateful to have that problem, in a way; there are too many people I love and want in my life that I just can’t make time for all of them in a single weekend. It’s a nice problem.

I’m also grateful, once again, for home. Reflecting on how far you’ve come as a person while trying to give advice to a coworker really humbles you. I will forever cherish the hectic shifts that transform into some serious bonding. I’ve realized drinking is a great way to make connections (not that that had stopped me before).

I’ve also realized I’ve got too much going on. I’m taking some time to take care of myself, but it would be nice if I had a little help every now and then.

Even now there are certain things I must leave unsaid.

***

I’ve mentioned my crazy dreams. Last night I had one in which I was dying. I had watched two friends get shot and they died in front of me. I was slowly slipping too (though more likely from the dream than from this world).

I remember panicking because I didn’t know what would come next. Was this just the end? Would I be reborn? Would I find my loved ones in the afterlife? Or was there simply darkness?

I’m not sure what it means, and I’m panicking over too many other things to worry about this existential crisis. But I’ve personally thought that the mind was so powerful that whatever it believed, whatever religion it practiced, is what would happen to that person. It’ll vary worldwide, but that’s just what I thought. Think? I’m not sure.

However I am sure that I’m nodding off while writing this. I’ve never been more exhausted in my life, which usually leads to good, hard sleeps.

Sorry I couldn’t be more reflective and insightful, but thank you for sticking with me and continuing to peek into my mind.

Bones Don’t Stay

The last jazz night I worked was a little different. It went much less smoothly, and I was a lot happier. I was on the verge of tears, grateful for all I had been given.

Tonight went smoothly, but so much has changed in the few weeks I have been gone. The universe keeps drowning me in whatever bad karma I have earned.

My cat died. These things come in threes though, right? That’s the hope I’m hanging onto.

Funny enough, I think the universe is telling me where I should be. Tonight the 400s room was reserved for a surprise going away party for a man named Danny. As I sit here writing this, the jazz band is calling “Danny, Danny we love you, Danny we love you.”

I’m not sure if that’s the universe telling me to go, that it’s sorry but it loves me and this is my sign to get out. It could also mean I should be here in Middletown.

I’m not sure. Maybe the universe can give me some clearer signs without anyone else dying.

Blackened Ledbetter Riffs

It’s been a crazy few days with the full moon. But today ended better than yesterday. Yesterday exploded into chaos, but today I took care of myself. It’s interesting how just a simple nighttime routine can make you feel like you have some part of your life together.

I watched Jenna Marbles/Mourey tonight, and she shared 30 life lessons she learned by her 30th birthday, and while some of it was sarcastic or funny, parts of it had really good life advice that I think I needed to hear.

“Whatever you don’t like about your body, just try to come to peace with it… Just wait because maybe the world just isn’t ready for your beauty.”

As a struggling college student, this has never been more appropriate in my life. I’ve always been skinny fat, and then I started putting on muscle and I changed my diet, and then I went to college and put on the 15, and ever since I have just been battling myself to get back to where I was. I’m not fat, I’m just not as twig skinny as I used to be. I honestly just haven’t been nice to myself. I’ve become too impatient, expecting the weight to just fall off, and I always beat myself up when I’m feeling bloated. It’s even interfering with the gym, which doesn’t make sense. So I will try to be more patient, while also sticking to a healthy diet and routine.

“Try not to use the word regret, but instead say ‘I did the best I could for myself at the time’.”

This one sunk right through to my heart. I don’t have too many regrets in my life, but I hope to never forget this advice in the future. The first thing that came to mind was an ex. But it’s true, I did the best I could for myself at that time. I needed to get away from him. Maybe I didn’t go about it the right way, but it’s done and I think I’m in a better place because of it. Things happen for a reason.

Speaking of which, karma is real and it’s kicking my ass for something, and I think I know what it is.

If you don’t know, my grandparents live with me and my mom and dad. I don’t mind Grandma (though her toy poodle can be annoying), but I do not like my grandfather. It’s the side of the family we don’t really see, and we’ve had a shaky past, so we weren’t exactly off to a great start. But he is just so expectant of my mother and of his wife. He’s not very thankful. He thinks he’s going to get better, at 80 years old. He thinks very highly of himself and very poorly of – it seems – everyone else. Some of his own kids think he’s a pain in the ass. Some of them don’t even want to see him, and I don’t blame them.

For the past two years, I have seen his health deteriorate. I have watched him go from shuffling through the house, to being wheelchair-bound, to being basically bedridden. And each time he gets worse, I just keep hoping it’s the end. It has been such a stress on my mom, the caretaker, 24/7. (Luckily, some of her siblings help out from time to time.) It has caused tension between my parents. It has shattered my sense of home.

I always feel in the way. When I come home, suddenly there’s no room in the fridge. I’ve stopped putting ice in my drinks because our ice machine is slow enough that my dad already has to go to the store at least once a week just to get an extra bag. I can’t park in my driveway anymore because it’s a shorter walk for grandma. I make breakfast and then disappear to my room so they can have the TV because Grandpa can’t move from his chair. We moved my cat’s food so the dog wouldn’t get to it. I don’t talk to my mom while she gets ready for bed anymore because I know she’s just too tired during the week. I have to dodge the chairlift, most annoyingly when I’m carrying packed bags.

It’s just not home anymore.

And maybe that’s a good thing, so I can move on. Time will tell.

But because of this whirlwind of shit, I keep wishing Grandpa will die soon. I’m not exactly proud to say it, but it’s true. And it’s just what I wish. I know I shouldn’t wish death upon anyone, but I feel no remorse.

And karma knows it. And that’s why it’s kicking my ass.

I’m not going to proclaim to be a better person. I have no plans to take it back, because I know it won’t help at this point. I also know I wouldn’t mean it. I just think it takes more to be honest in this situation.

Maybe karma will reward me for that later.