Monday, October 31, 2016

No Hiding from the Night

Part of Me Wants to Escape the Night, Escape the Loss
But When the Doorbell Rings, I Will Answer
I hate waking with this sense of failure permeating my being. I’m sixty-four, sixty-four, and I feel alone and inept and unaccomplished. I ask myself: Is it the day? Is it the October that ends today? Is it that November 2 waits to meet me again in two days?
I remind myself that it is the day, it is the month, it is the prospect of marking thirty long years forty-eight hours from now.
I tremble. My breath comes in rapid gulps. I don’t want to celebrate this Halloween. It’s my first living alone and it takes me back thirty years to a Halloween night when I was home alone, watching my child nearing the end of her own breaths. The house wasn’t lit up, and I asked my husband to leave the outside lights off before he left for his errand. The idea of children—whole in their Halloween happiness—coming to the door made me shrink in fear.
Of course, the doorbell rang. I couldn’t hide from the mother and child waiting outside, knowing someone was home. We’d been on a no-sugar, no-flour, no-treat eating regimen for years, but I did a frantic search and found something resembling a treat. I brought it to the door and apologized for the meager offering. I was met with smiles and gratitude.
When they reached the sidewalk, I turned off most of the lights in the house and went to sit by my little girl’s side.
I wished she were whole, healthy, and running the streets with joy, candy bag filled, and face chocolate smeared. But she wasn’t. We were not mother and child, hand in hand, ringing doorbells and gathering treats.
As I sat by her side, however, we were still mother and child, my hand in hers. Two days later, we were still mother and child as she breathed her last. Thirty years later, we continue to be mother and child—even as I sit here, tears threatening to smear the ink on these lines.
I say to myself: Yes, it is the day. It is the next two days. It is the last thirty years. It is the next however many years.
I will always miss her, and part of me will always yearn for a Halloween night when I could hold her hand and go door to door.
Part of me, this year, as every year, wants to dim all the lights and hole up in a dark room and escape the night, escape the loss, escape the sadness.
But I’ve learned a few things as these years go by. Foremost is that I’m still here. I have life and love to give—and even to receive. So tonight, I will turn on the lights, and when the doorbell rings, I will have real treats. I will open the door and smile and be grateful that, in spite of the greatest loss, I can still share in the joy of a child.

My precious daughter, Alexa Renee Provo, died on November 2, 1986, from brain cancer. She was seven and a half years old. It is my heartfelt hope that in spite of this greatest loss, that I can continue to live with joy and let others know that in spite of loss, they can, too.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pain Walks the Streets of Our Cities

The Door Closes on yet Another Life
Tears brim in my eyes, ready to fall away and spill down my face. I found out on social media early this morning that a friend lost her son. Someone said his death was addiction related. She lost her aunt and mother not long ago, and a few years ago, she lost her soul mate. I feel so broken for her. She is sweet and tender and sensitive. She adored her son.
I wish I could do something, anything. I know I can pray, but even that feels hollow, lacking substance. I hate it that yet another life has been cut short because of this vile affliction.
It grates when I think of the millions and millions and millions wasted on this dumb-ass election—not only this sleazy sideshow of a presidential election, but all the offices, from mosquito control officer on up. That’s the true evil in this country. And we have people in Congress who have made it their purpose to do nothing except support the companies who keep drugs on the streets and the insurance companies that deny addiction treatment services to all those except the wealthy. And, unlike some things, support for Big Pharma is bipartisan. They all line their pockets with their foul gains.
Meanwhile, people are dying, like my friend’s son, for lack of treatment. People are suffering. Families and societies—counties, states, our entire country—we’re all affected by the pain of this current system.
And that pain seeps out of the space in those pockets where money hasn’t crowded it aside. That pain walks the streets of our cities. That pain rides in ambulances to emergency rooms. That pain escapes in the sighs and groans of an EMT when Narcan fails to work. That pain sits in the living rooms and at the kitchen tables of thousands of families who are brought to their knees in grief. That pain streams from my pen as I write these words.
That pain is compounded by the frustration of those who desperately want to close the door on addiction and say goodbye to it. That pain sears the psyches and hearts of those who instead say a different, gut-wrenching goodbye as the door is closed on yet another life.
That pain is echoed in the futility I feel and the frustration I feel. What—just what—are the priorities in our country? I don’t know what to do to fix this skewed, screwed system of ours regarding the most important assets of our country—our people, our youth, anyone who is suffering.
I tell myself to breathe, that I can do some things. I can make my voice heard by letters, e-mails, phone calls, And, I can do the most important thing: offer comfort to my friend and do whatever I can to ease her pain of saying goodbye.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Won't You Be My Friend?

UnFriends and Friends
Choosing Heart in a Heartless Campaign
 I have in-real-life friends and, like most people who have joined the twenty-first century, I have social media friends. My social media friends are a mixed bag: family members and real-life friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, and even friends of family and friends of friends. Many of my social media friends are those with whom I share common interests: the development where we live, orchid growing, epiphyllum growing, gardening, supporting local businesses, and local events groups. I don’t know my friend count offhand, and it changes depending on who is angry with me or who is angry with my family and/or other friends. It likely changes when I mention something controversial.
This vile political season has people dropping friends, hiding friends, unfollowing friends, and some pretty heated vitriol among “friends.” Earlier today, I read a status in which someone said that they would remove all people from their friend list who disagreed with their choice for president in the upcoming election. The person decided that those people aren’t worth any further association with them.
I understand differences of opinion and I understand differences of politics. I have immense differences regarding politics, religion, and social issues with several of my social media friends and even with my real-life friends and family.
In the years I’ve been on social media, I have removed one person from my friend list. One. I removed her because she attacked me personally without cause. She attacked me regarding my beliefs and knowledge, and she attacked my professional qualifications. I don’t need someone like her in my life, so she isn’t.
I disagree in the most strong terms with some of my friends’ choices for the upcoming election. I will not unfriend them. When I think of each person, I know they have goodness in their hearts. I know they love their family. I know they love their pets. I know they love their country. I know they love their God. I know they have compassion and caring because of the very things they have said to me. I know they have hearts that love, hearts that yearn, hearts that grieve, hearts that are full of hope.
It’s those hearts that I want to keep as my friends. I know that this election will end. Someone will be president. I refuse to separate myself from people who have hearts that touch mine and continue to touch other hearts each day. I intend to keep my friends.