We’ve all seen the words that accompany clickbait articles on our social media feed.it.

The words that tell us how much of our precious time will be spent reading the article, if we click. At first I didn’t think much of it. When they started appearing, it was something I barely noticed to be honest. Then i started to see it more and more often.

Two Minute Read.

Four Minute Read.

Three. Five. One. Seven.

Have we really become so busy, so lacking in time and energy, that we aren’t willing to commit to something that grabs our interest unless we have a promise of how much of our time we will need to invest in it before we even start? Are we really at the point where we have to choose so carefully how we ration out our energy and time?

When did we become so habituated to living frenetic, rushed lives that we can’t even click on an article without being able to decide whether it’s worth our time based on how much of that time it will take? When did this pace of exhaustion and burnout become normal?  How have we evolved to a culture that makes us feel like we are not doing enough until we are doing too much?

How many of us will admit to half-reading the article while looking at the page to find where the end is? Mentally and intellectually moving on to the next attention needing task before we are done with the one we should be focusing on; the one right in front of us. What happens is that each thing that is in our field of vision, either literally or metaphorically, ends up being short-changed. Whether it’s the fluffy article, the science journal or the partner sitting next to us as we nod and don’t really listen to the conversation.

Maybe the most important question though isn’t thew how or why are we like this, but rather, why are so many of us okay with it?

The answer that gets bantered about is that we just simply don’t have the disposable time and energy anymore to “waste” it. That our energy and time is so stretched to the limit that we have to be acutely conscious of how we spend it. Every single minute of it. It’s a simple explanation and one that makes sense. It’s also an explanation that begs the question of why are we not more concerned with trying to change that than we are with how long that article will take us to skim through.

There are books aplenty about grief and loss and how to process. Essays upon essays that muse on feelings and actions and how to navigate the waves. How to learn to surf and not drown in them when someone you love is gone.

 

Beautiful prose and poetry is written about the pain and hurt and eventual sunrise at the end of it all when you accept it and see the truth that the days do indeed keep coming.

 

But no one talks about the messy parts. The gallows humour parts. The parts when you just have to laugh and cry at the ridiculousness that is real life in the middle of the disaster of loving the dead while you exist in the midst of the living.

 

No one talks about the moments that make you cringe while you’re shaking your head and thinking “why didn’t anyone tell me about THIS!’”

 

No one talks about how you will do your grocery shopping at 11:30pm, just before the store closes, so that you can avoid having to come face to face with all the people who know.

 

No one tells you how to answer the casual question of “what’s he doing after grad?” from someone who hasn’t heard that he died 6 months ago. No one tells you that you will simply lie, saying “ he’s doing great” to avoid having to explain it – again.

 

No one tells you how much you will come to hate seeing people who don’t know. Even more than you may come to hate seeing people who do.

 

No one tells you how to cancel plans, made three days before your person died. No one tells you that you will leave a movie theatre 10 minutes into the movie to send a text to the friend you forgot you made plans with for that evening. Plans made three days ago. Before. No one tells you that you’ll stand there in the lobby, holding your phone and trying to figure out how to say that you can’t make it to dinner because your son is dead and you’re watching a mindless movie with your other kids trying to do anything that makes your mind stop screaming. No one tells you that you will ever send a text saying “I can’t make dinner because my son died.” No one tells you that you will not care how rude that sounds.

 

No one tells you that you will laugh out loud when you ask your other kids what they want to do that evening, two days later, to try to pass the time and one of them says “I don’t know, just hang around? Oh, sorry, bad wording.”. No one tells you that you will laugh because the reality of his bad wording speaks to a reality that is simply unbelievable and surreal.

 

No one tells you that you will start to wonder if you have lost your mind.

 

No one tells you that you will be so angry at the funeral when someone asks why you are letting his friends see him – in an open casket – because, “don’t you know it might upset them?” Them. No one tells you that you will be alright with the fact that you don’t care who is upset.

 

No one tells you that you will look back a month later and have no idea how you’re younger child got fed and taken to school and cared for when you can’t remember doing any of it.

 

No one tells you that you will drive yourself to the morgue in city rush hour and home again and be surprised when someone asks you how you managed it – and why didn’t you ask someone to drive you! It won’t occur to you that you shouldn’t have been able to do something as normal as driving because you did it. And you don’t remember even getting in the car.

 

No one tells you about how hilarious you find it when you buckle the seatbelt around the container holding your son’s ashes in the passenger seat after it goes flying onto the floorboards when you take a hard turn out of the crematorium’s parking lot.

 

No one tells you how sad you will be on the day when, years later, you take out his shirt that you kept because it smelled like him  – and it doesn’t smell like him anymore.

 

No one tells you.

grief doesn’t merely sit.

it resides,

it burrows,

nests,

settles in,

envelopes.

 

heavy,

weighted,

ever-present,

suffocating my

lightness of being

that it has replaced.

 

once a raw

shocking stranger,

now,

a reluctantly

accepted

companion.

 

always present.

constant.

a part of,

yet no longer,

all of

my being.

 

After a long labour of love – and more work than I knew I was getting myself into – the ebook of my collection of my poetry, Connect The Dots, is finally done and ready online!

Come along on a journey of life in poetry and prose. The highs, the lows and the spaces in between. Dive into what drives us, draws us and makes us tick.

Connect….The…. Dots…. is an immersive experience of words that explore and evoke.

Check it out anywhere you find ebooks 😉

 

Connect The Dots Cover

 

A replay of a favourite… in honour of last nights attempt to watch a horror movie without hurting the one I love next to me 😉

 

I am not someone that you want next to you when enjoying a horror flick.

As anyone who has ever had the pleasure of my company in such a setting can attest to, it’s not fun.

I startle easily and violently with my go-to response being to lash out. I strike, hit, punch, and grab whoever is nearest with lightning speed reflexes.

It’s actually quite impressive, I think. My companions, they tend to disagree.

 

Ten Truths I Have Discovered Through Horror Movies

 

  1. Any encounter with a homicidal maniac is always accompanied with either complete silence or stereotypical eerie, chill-inducing music. Always. (ps, this helps know when to cover your eyes when you’re watching, just sayin)
  2. Your odds of being murdered in a horror movie are directly related to your gender. Female equals kill stock. Males will go too but if you’re female, the odds are stacked against you. If you are pretty, you go sooner.
  3. The caveat to #2 is that females also have higher odds of being the last survivor. This may have something to do with point #4.
  4. Your overall attractiveness and bra cup size will dramatically increase the chances of you losing clothing during your struggle to survive the aforementioned homicidal maniac…and your odds of needing to run *bounce bounce bounce*
  5. We have gut instincts for a reason. Developed over thousands of years to help us stay safe. Why almost no one in horror movies chooses to believe the creepy feeling they have when the porch light goes out and the wind chimes play is beyond my understanding.
  6. The same stupidity and knack for poor decision-making that gets a person in trouble will also help them survive – against all odds, if they are the big name star (who is needed for the sequel).
  7. An adult-sized person can successfully hide behind a tree sapling.
  8. Forests at night are scary. Always. There are no helpful woodland creatures like in Bambi, just predators hunting you as you run at top speed through the trees – and somehow manage to not run headfirst into any of them.
  9. The concept of safety in numbers only works if you all stay together! Do not, under any circumstances, leave the herd to go get a beer. You will not be “right back”. But your body will be found later (accompanied by eerie music or silence – see point # 1 above).
  10. I should not watch horror movies.

It was the first day of middle school for me in yet another new school. Another first day that found me, as was now routine, being brand new and knowing not a single person. I never got used to it but by that point, I had perfected the art of not letting my painful shyness and anxiety show. I took my seat near the back of the room and tried to look like I was busy doing something so that my awkwardness and discomfort at being surrounded by everyone else reconnecting with their friends after summer break wasn’t too obvious.

A girl near me who was the only other person not chatting and laughing caught my eye and asked me if I had a pen to borrow. the teacher walked in and the room grew quiet just as I handed her a pen and said a quiet “here you go”.

“There is no talking in homeroom. Miss, you will be joining me after school today for detention.” Ms. Sage spoke clearly and loudly over the shuffling of bags.

Welcome to room 7-211.

I was mortified and I wanted to crawl under the desk. All eyes were now on me and I could feel the tears hot and stinging in my eyes. I had never had a detention before. I was a good girl. I never did anything wrong or got in trouble. Assignments were never late. My marks were always perfect. I never drew attention to myself. In one sentence, Ms. Sage had impacted me in a way that I couldn’t make sense of. With her words, she showed me that she judged me based on a split second and that glimpse of my actions was not in line with who I was. I wanted to argue and explain but that would have just brought more attention. So I sat and nodded, trying to make myself as small as I could. As invisible as I could.

That moment was a stark contradiction to how that year ended for Ms. Sage and I; and to this day, she most likely has no idea how much she affected me. For the good.

 

Room 7-211, named for Grade 7, Room #211, was my homeroom and the way our school functioned was that every morning, all students went to their homerooms for first period, which was 20 minutes. It was intended to be a time for students to be briefed on daily notices from the office, schedule updates and to get ready for the day essentially. But that was a blip for Ms. Sage. She would run through the sheet of information that was on her desk from the office in record speed and then we were to do silent reading for the remainder of the period.

Her room had two racks of paperbacks in the back. The kind of racks that were made of metal and that spun on a single tall rod. They were filled with books of all genres and lengths. No graphic novels (this was the eighties and it would be years before those came along), no comic books or romance novels. They were filled with novels that she brought in and changed out regularly. To this day, I have no idea where she got them all. Some had stamps from city libraries with “discard” written across and all were clearly used. Maybe she had bought them, maybe they were donated, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that from that first day when I didn’t have a book to read, I found a treasure trove of books I had never seen before.

I was already an avid reader. I lived in my books. I loved being lost in made up worlds and stories that were anything but my life and the things that I didn’t want to exist in, but did. Since I was a little girl and had learned to read, it had been part of my day so I welcomed the chance to have a safe, familiar thing to do each morning in a place where I was definitely not comfortable.

That year was magical for 20 minutes every day. Those moments lost in new found adventures were my solace and it didn’t take long for her to notice. By Christmas, Ms. Sage had started to walk by my desk every couple of weeks with a book she had pulled from the racks and she would place it next to me as I sat reading. She never said a word as she did this; she would simply put it down, pat it and nod at me. That would be my next book.

Bradbury, Tolkien, Asimov, Bronte, Fowles, Poe, Steinbeck. Frank. I devoured them, fell in love with them. I was mesmerized by the nuances of styles and imagery, by the different ways that each author crafted and danced their words to fill the pages. Her picks for me never failed to incite something inside of me that I hadn’t felt before. One day she dropped a book of poetry on my desk and yet another world opened up. We rarely spoke one on one and I never asked why she would pick books for me.

The last homeroom of grade seven and as we were getting ready to leave she spoke, her voice cutting through the chatter of the students. She looked at me and said “Please come see me before you leave.” I groaned inside. All eyes were on me and there was laughter and the singsong of “you’re in trouble” from a few around me. I gathered my bag and trudged to her desk. She was writing something and without looking up she said, “Go to the racks and you can pick out three books to keep.”. She never looked up at me but she smiled.

To this day, two of those three books still sit on my bookshelf. The third was lost somewhere along my years and when I finally settled where I live now, it was the first book I sought out and bought at a little used book store in town. It’s not the original but it still holds a place in my heart – and shelf – along with those other two. Everytime I look at them or read them, I think of her and wonder if she has any idea how she shaped who I am today with those few moments. Those books she placed on my desk broadened my views and sparked fires that I hadn’t known existed within me.

Thank you Ms. Sage.

DSCN0674

 

We live in a culture that spoon feeds us contradictions right from the beginning.

On the one side, we are told to never settle or accept less than what will make us truly fulfilled and happy. The mere hint of settling in life is an abomination against our potential and our dreams that burn like little sparks of amazeballs inside of us. We were meant for more than to just go to work and die. You can be anything that you want to be when you grow up. The only limits are the ones that you place on yourself. Never give up. Keep striving and reaching for the stars. Mediocrity and complacency are the slow death of our souls’ brilliance.  I could go on, but you all know the speech.

Flip over to the other camp and you have the face slap that hits us all at one time or another. All of a sudden, the lessons learned and internalized from years of inspirational posters with perfectly graphic enhanced words of wisdom are shot down. We are told to get our heads out of the sand. To be realistic and be grateful for what you have.  That the reason you are unhappy is because you are never satisfied – what is wrong with you? You’re greedy. You would be happier if you would just stop searching and instead, appreciate what you do have. Stop all that wanting and seeking for more, different, better, simpler… insert your preference here. Then, at some point, we may even get the cherry on top tossed at us – Everyone is unhappy and dissatisfied, what makes you think you should be any different? Just think about everyone out there who has it worse than you.

So where does that leave us? Sure, we have the drive or the lack of it inside of ourselves. But we also have everything around us that leaves us like the proverbial squirrel in the road. Not sure what to do or in which direction to go. Like that ill-fated tree rat, we stall and do nothing, hunkering down and waiting for who knows what; and we all know how that story ends. The often remarked “no one gets out alive” adage assures us that death will eventually come along and finish our story for us, the way IT wants.

We can sit and watch that hapless squirrel l and determine, from our safe vantage point that offers a different perspective,  that both directions have potentially good or bad outcomes but staying there has an almost certain outcome of bad.

We have people in our lives that fan the flames of our desires with us, often times for us. These are the people who see your flames flickering out and pull out the moss and twigs and lichen (or dryer lint and balled up tissues – we all roll the way we roll) and they nurse the flames back to life with us.  If you have them, those people in your corner are indeed something to be grateful for. Our society has even developed to the point where you can hire people to be there for you and stoke your fires. People who can help keep you from sliding into the pool of complacency and stagnation. What a time to live in.

To return to the dilemma of complacency though; how do you know which side of the edge you are sitting on? Do you need to kick yourself in the pants – or have someone else do it for you – to get yourself out of the Swamp of Sadness that surrounds you because you feel like there has to be more out there? (bonus points if a vision on Artax and Atreyu just flashed in your mind there)? Or are you mature and informed about your life, options and potential enough to simply be making an intelligent decision to be okay with where you are and to understand the difference between a dream and a fantasy for your goals in life?

For each of us, it could go both ways at any given time. Eventually, like the squirrel, you will run out of time to decide though and there are no do-overs. Just ask pancake road squirrel if you doubt that. Sorry to say that there isn’t an easy answer or one that can apply to everyone. Just don’t be complacent about questioning complacency in your life. That’s definitely not something to be complacent about.

My son looked at the man sitting across from us in the emergency room. It was hard not to notice him. He was handcuffed,and a large, tired looking police officer was standing next to him, trying his best to not engage with him.

My son and I had been sitting in the waiting room for 3 hours by then. Sent here, fast-tracked, by his therapist that afternoon when he could no longer assure her during their meeting that he would be safe. I had driven us straight here from that appointment.

A phone call made while on the way to ask my older son to make dinner for his other brothers.

No, I wasn’t sure how long I would be.

Yes, it would be hours most likely.

No, I didn’t know what would happen.

I would call him later, I promised.

Thank you, I said while trying to sound as normal as possible.

The handcuffed man in the waiting room yelled profanities at the police officer. At the people in the room, at the walls who he accused of listening to him and recording him. He laughed loudly when he wasn’t screaming. He was shaking and spittle flew from his lips as he jumped in the chair trying to get out. Then he stopped, and he cried. He sobbed and he asked the police officer to shoot him, to kill him, to make the voices stop yelling at him, to make the walls stop staring. The police office stared straight ahead and avoided eye contact with anyone.

I stared at the floor, at my son, at the ceiling. Anywhere but at the man who had now wet himself and was silently sobbing and whispering “stop stop stop” over and over. I prayed that they would take him in soon. Away from this room.

A nurse came over with a wheelchair and spoke with the officer. He nodded and turned to speak to the man.

“It’s time to get fixed up, come on, in the wheelchair.” He tried to help him to stand and the man cried harder. “Stop stop stop” now replaced with “I’m sorry” repeated like one long word that never ended.

They wheeled him away. His sobs turning to screams and profanities, threats of violence and death to the nurse as he disappeared down the hallway and behind a set of doors that need a swipe card to allow access.

I let out the breath I hadn’t know I had been holding. I heard my son sigh loudly and he stood.

“I can’t do this.” He was shaking and his voice cracked, close to tears in a way I hadn’t heard through the weeks of angry rage that was the usual lately.

“I don’t want to be like that.” He sat back down and I saw the tears roll down his face. I had no words. “and I will be.” He leaned forward in the chair, his elbows resting on his thighs.

His hands were clasped, fingers twisting against each other as he shook. His knee bouncing with restless energy and fear.

“I promise I’ll be okay. I won’t hurt myself. I promise. Please just take me home. I’ll go to the therapist everyday. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay.” His voice was edged with anger now and I prayed that a nurse would come for us soon.

I spoke to soothe him. I told him that we would just talk to someone, that he knew that he wasn’t okay and that we had to do something – something more than what we were, because what we were doing wasn’t helping enough.

I told him that he could get better.

That he would get better.

That this was a good step in that direction and I pleaded with him to just stay a little longer here.

To just give it another half hour.

He sighed and slumped back in his chair.

Three more half hours later and a nurse came for us. They took him to a room alone and me to another to talk with a doctor.

Sorry, they said, there was a more urgent case that came in to psychiatric assessment unit and they couldn’t help how long we had had to wait.

It’s fine, I answered.

Sorry, they said, the only doctor who could do an assessment on my son had just left for the day an hour ago. All they could do now was keep him overnight and try to have him assessed the next morning. Sending him home was not an option, they said. His therapist considered him an imminent risk so they were holding him.

Can I stay with him tonight? I asked. No.

Can I say goodbye to him? I asked.

They brought me into the holding area. Locked metal doors that all opened towards a central nursing desk.

The noise of fists and feet banging against one of the doors from the inside was deafening. The nurses moved about, oblivious it seemed.Threats of death to the nurses, screams, sobbing, all reverberated from so many rooms.

The doctor took a key and opened a door. My son sat on a bare mattress on a floor. A single blanket next to him. he was wearing a blue hospital gown.

“Can we go home now? I promise I’ll be okay.” his voice cracked.

We both knew he wanted to be.

We both knew he wouldn’t be if he came home that night.

I stayed with him for as long as they would let me. Then I said goodbye, promising to be back first thing in the morning.

He stood to say goodbye and he hugged me. Tears that his angry 16 year old self would not let fall hovered on his lashes. I turned and left as my own tears fell.

We both knew that tonight, at least, he would be okay. And that night, that was what mattered the most.