A Memorial Day for memories, but not the usual sort …

Today I found myself waiting for a cleaner I hired that never showed up, and that was just as well. I surprisingly felt okay, and I was able to do some cleaning myself without getting too freaked out in my apartment. That was one reason I hired a cleaner, so that things could get done in my apartment that were being neglected because of my inability to spend long periods of time in my place.

But today was different, and I can’t figure out why, though I am not complaining. I started cleaning off my coffee table while I was waiting for the cleaner. Before I knew it I realized he wasn’t coming, but I was on a roll. So, I cleaned it off. It took a while, but I did it. And here it is …

coffee table

I even used the vacuum! Although it took a while to achieve such a small task of cleaning off a coffee table and vacuuming I still felt accomplished. And I felt that way because I did not freak out. I did not start getting anxious and scared and depressed in my place. I did not feel like dying, and the thoughts I used to get from Belle about death were not there. And thanks be to God for that.

It was still a hard day, and I certainly felt sadness. The difference was that it did not feel like the end of the world. The book you see on the coffee table is a poetry chapbook that my long-lost father sent me back in 2008 when we briefly reconnected. We could not maintain the connection because his active alcoholism was too much. I called him on Father’s Day that year, and became upset at hearing my father drunk on the phone. I just could not maintain a connection under such unpredictable circumstances, never knowing when he would be sober. I found that book of poetry while I was cleaning. It took my breath away. I realized that when I received it back in 2008 I had not paid much attention to it because I was still mad at him for being drunk on Father’s Day that same year in 2008. The book, braille for the heart, is a chapbook of poetry by Robert Vasquez.

poetry

And for the first time since I received the book I picked it up and looked at it. I really looked at it. For the first time ever I looked at it without anger. As I started flipping through it I found a page that he had bookmarked with a metal bookmark. I always thought it was just randomly put there. I had never really looked at what he had bookmarked until today. Here is what I found.

POEM

He underlined the last line, “Music is braille for the heart.” It just takes my breath away to see this because the underlining was meant for me, at least I presume it was. I miss him, but I don’t like thinking about how much I miss him because the pain is a huge hole in my heart. The pain of knowing that he’s been walking dead to me for decades. The alcoholism took him from me, and will likely keep him from me for the rest of our days. He is the only person on this earth who truly gets me. Case in point, he sent me a chapbook of Latino poetry without knowing how much I love poetry. I know he sent it because he connected with the chapbook. But the truth is that I’ve loved poetry since I was a child. And though he was not around when I fell in love with poetry I know that he knows because he’s the only one that knows me. And the only one that knows me is without reach. I cannot talk to him about life, or any of the challenges or accomplishments I’ve had. If I could talk to him I know he would relate to so much of it. Hell, we’re both even alcoholics. I was more like him than I wanted to be.

Oh, I miss him so. There is so much loss here that it is just hardly palpable, especially since the loss of him left me with my mother. The irony is in the fact that he’s the parent that really loved me, but his alcoholism kept us apart. This one gift from my actively alcoholic father is light years beyond anything my mother has ever given me. She may have been present, but she never had the capacity for love. It is simply not within her. Yet, she is the parent I got to be with, the one who could not love. The one who could love was and is too sick. He is sick, but I still love him, and always will.

Twenty years

20 years later we found each other again.
It was like time had not passed between us.

It all came rushing back,
the way you give your cats voices and stories,
and your profanity that would be uncouth on anyone else.

You call me princess, and I remember how it felt 20 years ago.
This DID is full of surprises.
I didn’t remember you dumpster-diving for my coupons you accidentally threw away,
or my best friend with hardly a penny to her name flying to see me.

You talked to Letty, Ronnie and Sabrina,
and you showed them love and understanding.
We decided we belonged together after all these years.

April 12th was the day you chose for a fresh start.
You were coming home to me.

In between all the planning we just talked,
talked about life, and stupid stuff, like made-up cat stories.
The laughing, so real, unlike any laugh I’ve had in decades.

All I could promise was tea and toast with me every day.
We don’t have a lot of money, but we felt like the richest duo around.

But then there came the email.
I was merely a fantasy.
Your family needs you, and you hope I can forgive you.

I can forgive you.
But can Letty?
Ronnie?
Sabrina?
You have to ask them as well.

Twenty years from now, there will not be another chance.
There will be no other moment like the one we had.
I know what you said no to, but do you?

Wrong

For nearly 20 yearsI was afraid of him.

 

I hid from him,

took great pains to not have my name in that thing they call the Internet.

Alas, he still found me

on that stupid thing called Facebook.

 

When I left,

I left because I was scared.

A voice told me I had to leave.

“Go now!”

It said.

“Get out!”

 

So I did.

I packed in one night,

only books, clothes, a zester and a salad spinner.

 

For nearly 20 years, I said I ran from a bad man.

I was convinced of it,

Convinced I did the right thing.

 

But then one peep started talking to me,

telling me he was okay.

 

It started with a whisper,

“He’s safe. He IS safe.

Talk to him.”

 

I ignored it,

but the whispers would not yield.

 

Finally, I gave in

And found him on that Internet.

 

And I was wrong,

Wrong about everything I believed.

 

All those years ago,

We did not know

I had DID.

 

My dear sweet love was having a hard time all those years ago.

He left the only job he had ever known.

There was despair and a hole in his heart in a life without that job.

 

He would hole up in that room all by himself,

and not say a word.

Just play his video games

and grunt my way.

 

One day I had enough of no talk.

He had a bowl of popcorn cradled in his arm.

He gave me a scowl and cower as I walked in.

I popped that bowl of popcorn straight in the air

and it rained popcorn on our despair.

 

A peep I didn’t know I had was scared,

and wanted to run.

My husband’s despair was a reminder of woe

the peep felt in the scary house of long ago.

 

This was not the same,

but how were we to know?

 

When I left he cried

and asked me not to go.

 

I left, and did not turn back.

 

Nearly 20 years later,

I turn back.

 

Now, I cry,

and ask him not to go.