The trouble with goodbyes

The trouble with goodbyes.

A year ago tomorrow, in the dark hours of dawn I gathered all of us together in the room of this house and I held Kiks children near me. I smoothed Dutch’s Superman shirt over his shoulders, reminding him to be brave. I held hands with the only men in my life who seem to understand that loyalty mustn’t wavier in our darkest times. That loyalty is not noble or pretty. It’s about standing at a persons six again and again. It’s about forgiveness and understanding. It’s about not letting the dark horrors of this world fell us. We sang to her, up to the mountain by patty griffin. A fitting tribute for a woman who dedicated her life to the injustice and forgotten. We let her body go as we poured our love brokenly into that song.

Life continued with unrelenting hardships. Infidelity issues. Trouble with ALL of the children in my life as they found trouble adjusting to the next steps in their lives. New jobs, my mothers battle with her health. Sullys brother struggles. Money issues, another friend’s cancer fight… and then there seemed to be a reprieve… I became pregnant, AT 44, the greatest joys of this year, were in moments within this pregnancy gave me such deep hope. A hope of a life that stays, a man that stays, a dream that remains. Every inch of me willed myself to the finish line. And the closer I got the more I became mired in the past. Of every mistake I had ever made. Every wrong road, every twisty dark fear. All I could think of were those that were gone those that had hurt me. Whom, I had hurt and the things in life that are not able to be fixed. The closer to the end of my pregnancy, the closer I got to the knowledge that I might not survive the pregnancy. But I didn’t die…Instead we had a just a few short hours with my beautiful Shepard. But a part of me went into decay.

In its way this goodbye altered me into a crazed creature. The historical often told satire of a person so crippled with grief and rage n self hatered that they exist in a haze. I wound up going to Canada. To visit the man who I have always viewed as my closest friend on earth. My true north. My glass half full. His wife and I had come to a place of friendship again after many years of not speaking. All do to an altercation between my then abusive husband Andy and BL. Issues n a loss within her own family caused her to reach out to me before Christmas. She wanted family and a connection. Her husband was going to be The Godfather of my child. I have a busy house of children n friends. She saw the glow of the fire and felt it beckon her in. If u know me, you know I share everything I have. I welcomed her and she seemed to welcome me. But after I lost my baby, there was a sense of deep unease and fear within me, my grief and anger. The depth of all of my hurt was so visceral. I didnt want to go and visit after we agreed I would.

It wasn’t an easy trip. Though they r kind and giving there was an unease. It didn’t help that my life did not stop in its chaos. My son entering a troubled time of his own, my mother’s health further at risk, and her older age n disoriented thinking making her unmanageable. Sully and I coping with the fact that he had been unfaithful to me at crucial juncture when I need him so much. It’s was a lot of stew to stir. I never stopped feeling uncomfortable but I tried to be a good guest. I love, no I loved BL. There is nothing and I do mean nothing…I wouldn’t have done for him. And I can say for the most part he was an outstanding friend. We never had to fake the easy cheer between us. He told me we were two halves of a whole. We managed a great love by channeling it with moral propriety into a friendship of the ages. He became the one person, the one absolute I could trust without question. A year ago I begged him to speak to Bonnie his wife and ask him to come and see me here in Portland. It was a day after Kiks died. I wasn’t sure I could survive the grief. Sully offered every option, he’d pay for a hotel room for them and BL could just come and see me. Or they could both come here and we lay down our swords and break bread n heal. He refused. I just wanted to see him, because everyone I love is ripped from me so viciously, I was afraid I’d never see him again. I needed him to be my in my zip code in my living room. I needed desperately that friend. To have his hand hold mine as a father does to a child and says you will survive this. He refused. She refused.

So when Bonnie came back around this Dec….while I jumped at the chance to reconnect Sully reacted harshly. He wanted nothing to do with them. He cursed my soft heart, we fought about them again and again…Grief forged a huge chasm in between us as we desperately tried to hold it together. A chance came for me to go to them and I did. I was sitting on the floor laughing with them Sunday night and trying to show them a Hannibal Burgess video about Nola and I accidentally spilled a glass of wine. I jumped up to clean it and the over reaction to it by Bonnie was appalling. I cleaned it leaving it better then it was before and apologized profusely. She stomped upstairs and the damn broke within me. All the uncomfortable feelings of the present intermingled with memories of my mother from the past. I asked her to come downstairs and when I asked her why the over reaction, she said that I had wine in the bedroom and a wine glass n she put a lot of hard work into her Reno up there and if wine spilled the carpet would be ruined. This on almost the last few days of the trip. The answer was so insane, since she and BL knew I had a glass of wine middle of the night if the night terrors woke me, or if the anguish wouldn’t let me sleep. I’m almost 45 fucking years old. N responsible to boot, I asked was this about the fact that I was coping w my grief thru drinking? And I pointedly looked at BL who enjoys his liquor. She wouldn’t be pushed to answer. She said no and yes. Yet I never once was rowdy or left a mess. She brought up a benign incident this that happened 5 years ago after I lost Mac and our baby and he knocked up two other women…. I sat there in shock. Really from five years ago…She pulled on jeans n a sweater and her boots and told us she was going to a hotel. There was not cursing or shouting from me. It was a plea of why r u being like this. BL went to get her , feeling trapped by all of this. I ran in short sleeves n slippers into the thick snow begging her to wind down the window. Begging her to stop this and let’s talk, that there was clearly more at play here . BL got in the car to drive her I begged him to roll down the window he said no Bonnie doesn’t wish to talk. If I had done something wrong , if I had been a drunk fuckup or yelled or anything like that.. their reaction would be acceptable . I started crying begging. And it takes me back to the same place I always go. So as he drove out of that snow packed yard he was was driving out of a sugar cane field.

I can this one time in my life say I did nothing at fault. I let people in so deep. I share so much of me. I feel everything so deeply. This man told me for years I was his hero. He told me I was his twin. He promised me he would be the one person in my life who would never hurt me. He would never walk away. I sat up with him for hours splitting into pieces. And it’s funny how people rewrite their history with u to excuse themselves from blame. It’s funny how people fault me for staying w andy when he beat the living shit out of me. Broken legs arms noses, back injuries torn hamstrings , vertigo from having my head slammed against walls scarred mouth and face. I wasn’t a victim. I was stupid, Andy had a vicious hard insane life before I got to him. I thought if I could get us out of the pub and I could get him help he would change. I thought he was another broken stray I could fix with love. Maybe because I so needed that for myself. In the end, I stayed because I had no money and no place to go. It took Kevin dying and him dragging me down the stairs and beating me viciously to the point of I finally believed him when he said he was gonna kill me. I called ERIC and got out and all I have done since then is try n get past it and rebuild from absolute scratch. To be clear, I didn’t ask BL to chose our friendship over his wife. I asked him to force her to talk this out. To not let a stupid argument ruin us. But he won’t. She has the onset of many problems. Problems that he will not force her to deal with.Serious issues that need a DR not goggle to be treated. Asthis ending between BL and I played out it unleashed the savagely hurt broken little girl in me. And for that I have no forgiveness in my heart. Zero.

I hardly made it home. I spent most of the night in the Er with Sully. There is no drug they can give me…no glass of wine, no escape, no man, no sex, no time that will heal this. He was my true north. He made me believe u can trust people. He said I’ll never hurt u Newty, I’ll never leave . I’ll always stay. I’ll be that person for u, He threw that away over the overreaction of the demented rambling of a woman who needs just as much help as I do.

Here is what I have learned, because life has been so hard for me, so many tragedies, n shit I have to keep surviving, that I tend to pull people close and love them hard. I try n take care of so many people. Yet alway fear anyone who tries to care for me so I can’t even explain to u, that I don’t want to live another day. I don’t want to love another person. I don’t want to trust enough to share the deep hurts that formed so that I can open up n be vulnerable. I don’t say any of this out of drama. I say it from a place of shaking shock. He said we were inseparable for life…..Guess all it took was a glass of wine accidentally poured on a cheap carpet to allow him to destroy what was left of me.

I don’t hate BL. Or I guess I should say Larry. And I don’t hate our friends who love him. And I don’t want anyone to get involved. But I don’t know hOw to go on, what he has done is unforgivable. They were made aware both of them how shaken with my grief I was. I pushed false cheer as much as I could. I tried to be helpful. I was honest and raw and listened to their council . I paid my way, helped w cleanup. I was not lazy, I was not selfish in my grief. I remained engaged and interested in their lives. This was not about me be selfish. This was not an emotional dramatic fight fest where I staggered around drunk w grief quoting Hunter s Thompson. There was no subtweeting or dming. Or txting friends complaining about them, I tried. I tried to look over her slights n the uncomfortable at times atmosphere. I thanked them profusely for encouraging me to come to them and their care.

I tried calling today, angry because I don’t understand how this has all happened. This….Despite hours of arguing w BL over it yesterday. Despite the devastation I felt in the words that past between us. I called to see if there was a reason. The BL who spoke to me was a mockery. He was the cold lawyer that allowed him to excel to the stratospheric heights his career took him. That kind of drive takes a very hard man. This is the man who walks away and can shut his heart down in completion. One who never looks back. One who can sleep at night no matter what the chaos that reigns down around him. He once told me if anything happened to me he wouldn’t be able to go on. So cleaved from one atom we were. I always believed I could survive anything, because he was my Superman cape. My magical superpower that whispered, Newty, it’s ur lion, take my courage take my belief . You can do it. Because I believe in u.

I’m tired. And I hurt so hard. I’m physically sick from it all …And I have zero wish to go on anymore and I’m not sure how to survive that or even if I can. Instead of fill up the TL with misery I’ve put it all here. Because this is my place, I will never understand the way people are. And I’m tired of trying. I’m done.

The trouble with goodbyes are what remains,

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Cotton

Two years.

Sully and I went round after round like word prizefighters yesterday. My proud heart keeping a secret from him, from everybody….I spent yesterday in a fever soaked personal angst. Digging up bones of my past. Slicing piece after piece of my soul off, hating what remained.  Remembering another time after the loss of another pregancy, when I, in a vain attempt to cheer myself dressed in this over the top vintage Mexican n tied fruit in my updo ala Carmen Miranda…. bright pink lipstick and a pitcher of get you drunk juice and I wobbled on my cork heels out the door in the direction of my fabulous rainbow neighbors, the gay blades. I mean it’s like a film that flickers thru my mind, I see it n recall the emotions so clearly. My personal grief being pushed down… the sound of a car door opening and a woman asking me if Garret is home.

Thus marking the first appearance of Malibu Barbie… the effective n decisive end of my relationship with Mac/Garrett. An event that had a profound impact on the following years.

I flogged my heart with all the fathers that didn’t raise me, the sugar Cane field that haunts me, the ones I couldn’t save. All the airports my son n his father picked me up from or dropped off at since his birth…As I chased a sunset in the name of doing good. I picked apart the many I have fucked and the few I have loved with all of my heart. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t find a trace of the long haired, take no shit stringbean that ran a kick ass crew n got shit done. The special kind of spastic beauty that attracted men like flies. The temper that delighted and the jokes that paved the way to forgiveness. Gone was the charismatic confident girl named Red, who sang Cher songs in disaster sites and kept diaries full of sexcapades. All that was left was bloated with doubt, self hatered and a grief so intense it turned my reflection a murky grey.

I opened Sully’s personal computer, sure I would find emails from a lover, messages from an ex. Scathing hateful words he might have said about me to his brothers. I boldly intruded on his privacy, waiting to be right. Wanting to paint him the villain. In league with ever man that doesn’t stay, every man who teaches me to never show my underbelly. I needed to hate to justify this growing insanity inside me.

Instead I found a series of emails written to our friend Teddy, a fellow member of my lie and die aidework team.  Starting out asking Teddy to secretly get a larger size of dress for me before he sends it (I’m a groomsman in Teddy’s wedding in a few weeks) as not to call attention to the remaining post pregancy weight.  They share exchanges so poignant, I sobbed uncontrollably reading them. His fears of a distance between us. Of unintentionally hurting me in the clumsyness of his own grieving process. The eloquence n depth of their exchanges testament to the two decades we have all known each other, worked n loved together.

A pain grew that he could say all of these things clearly to anyone else but me. A few emails down the string of them. He had shared a picture of me sobbing holding our baby Shep after he had passed. He told Teddy how he wanted to erase the picture from his phone but couldn’t. How it haunted him. How he felt responsible, as if he didnt give me this one thing that would have brought me immense joy and closure. How he couldn’t figure out how to explain the space between us, when I was so often found crying in his arms.  He said after Kiks dying, this loss pushed us down a mountain.  I stood up wobbling and burning up with fever I opened a bottle of wine n sat in the pantry n sobbed.

I spent the rest of the night holding my secrets to myself n chattering here n there. Waiting for Sully to come home.  Pretending like I do everyday, that I’m gonna get thru this. Hours later, n drunker then I have seen him in a long long time, he comes in leaning a bit on our friend Tippy as he maneuvers them in the door. His eyes red rimmed n swollen, his beautiful blonde grey in a messy mop in his eyes. His reaches for me his big hands cradling my faces as he kisses me so very gently. Tippy motions me aside n shares that Sully had a bit of an emotional hiccup n to just ride this out with him.

I sit next to my man, taking in the masterpiece he is, the wrinkles from years of laughter n sunshine. The beautiful inviting curve of his lower lip, that he passed to our Shep. The inviting way he talks with his hands. His comforting demeanor, allowing u to feel that no matter what,  you know he guards the door, he mans the post. He has your six.  His eyes were sad, having a shine instead of a sparkle. He trapped my feet n hugged them to him. Holding my legs against him. His hand absently rubbing my heels, Time passes.

Our two friends go to bed, silence becomes loud. He looks at me and I whispered like a child… “ you forgot.”

A lone tear escapes his eyes as he struggles for composure. He agrees that he did. He said he went to get a menu n some beers and a couple was laughing about their anniversary and he felt like he was gut punched. He explains it wasn’t intentional or indicative of the state of our relationship. The hurt pours out of me…. he made the dog a spa appointment. Sent his mother a gift certificate for a painting class party with her friends. He bought his brother a Star Wars shirt. He found a horse to help a young friend of ours with some equine therapy n just bought her riding boots. And the list went on… it was petty n ugly of me. I hated myself with every word. It’s not that I wanted anything, it’s not that I begrudge his generosity. I’m not that chick. In the end I burst into tears. Again. I just wanted to be remembered. I just wanted to not feel like this misshaped troll that crawled from under a rock. I wanted to not feel the distance so keenly. I wanted to be the one he whispered his secrets to. I wanted to House his pain. I wanted the circle unbroken.

We went to sleep. We woke up. We were still breathing. He n his partner were working from our house today… another day plain n suffocating.  I was brushing my hair hating what stared back at me, when he hip bumped the door open. Cheeky grin on his face with two flutes and bottle of champagne in his hands, he came directly towards me. With a husky happy anniversary Bootsie baby, he gave me one of his signature panty rattling ur mines kisses. I stared almost angrily at him when he drew away. He popped the fizz n poured. It’s been two years I absently said, I was married to Andy for two years…

He beckoned me to sit next to him as he began, voice breaking….

”I knew a month before the night we decided to be together that you were going to be mine. Eric had that bonfire and u sat ur behind on my lap n fit against me perfectly. I knew it was time. Baby, I know you want all the fairytales that life has denied you and I wish I could give them to you, you have no clue how my heart aches. I had no idea when I asked you to move in with me that it would go from being us to Kiks, the kids, Nick n all of the rest who have been with us. That you would adopt every cause, kid or animal that passed by. It changed the natural progression of us. We’ve become lost in all of this…It kills me that we have been fighting when we should be grieving together. You seem to have no idea how much u mean to me. “

And so it went… every imperfection I listed he found a way to transform. Every fear, I finally voiced, he accepted. The feeling returned to his touch as he caressed my face, the blush to my cheeks as he ran his hand over my collarbone and into the vee of my cleavage. Perhaps because we could not disappear into the safety of our usual wild and passionate sex, we instead found a new intimacy in our words. For over an hour we sat on that loveseat. Kissing, caressing. Sipping sparkling bubbles that seemed to unlock that girl named Red n that man named Goose. We talked about the past. I fought for a different future. He got silly, stealing kisses n pinching my ass. I got sassy listing my demands… it was the kind of time new couples need, we lost that somewhere in the beginning. So here we were, starting again, anew.  We swapped cotton balls as gifts for our second anniversary.  Made plans for steamy hot sex on Valentine’s Day.  We litigated our grievances, awarded claims n dreamed of different endings. In the end , perhaps just n poetically we finally spoke of Shep meaningfully…looked at picture of the few hours we shared with our son, this time together.

“My heart is broken”….I whispered. A moment passed and then this ungodly beautiful man clenched his jaw to stop emotion, leaned over to grab a pen and unbuttoned my blouse. Carefully, he repeated the design of a heart and arrow over where mine should be beating. With a obvious ache he kissed me and repeated the same words I said to him many many years ago… then have mine…..

Last Chance Dance

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I’ve crossed the wide world and vast seas with the man who lays by my side. The poignant emotion that fills me with.

I share a wicked sinful delicious bed with a man who smells like trees n verbena soap and hope. At night sometimes, the past months as I have feared the worst, I write him deeply raw and personal love letters that I pack away…For all the just in cases. I never take him for granted, because to be honest, I am superstitious I know how the seasons steal.  I stir my love, never letting the flame,go out. Tomorrow is not promised. 

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I lay here so pregnant and I recount my entire life. A long line of green dominos set in winding patterns. I tip my memories foward and listen to them clatter into each other. I think of the things that used to be so urgent, that now mean so little. I think of passions, plane rides and all the wedding dresses I have owned. I remember ships and storms, rock and roll on rooftops. Lipstick kisses from shy sea glass eyes.  I’ve tried so many times to find the groove that will sustain me. Tried so hard to find where I fit, when in reality, I fit most places I was planted from sheer will. I think of all the times in 20 years I could have fallen in love with Sully. All that time gone
The laughs we shared, the depth of friendship.The nights when I burned with fevers n he would tell me stories of the coldest places on earth. I think of the how incestuous my life has been, with the who loved who first and who got who last. I think of burning sand, thick mosquito coasts in drowning heat. Of dusty roads, death n life of children and elephant ears. I think of buses n transport planes. I think of Japan n kites. I think of mountains n plaid shirts…
Of khaki shorts ,red vest and endorphins.  lI think of all the times I saw his beautiful smile split open, of every crease that grew next to his eyes thru the years… I think of how easily he quietly tears, of his battered hands and how they feel cupping my chin Almost every image I recollect is with him reading. His brow slightly furrowed. In depths of a paperback lost, his large hands caressing the spine of a favorite. The timber of his Honey Twang chuckle when he
Drinks, n how he closes his eyes when he taste something good.

I desperately catalog every nuance of him and wonder which his son will share. What will the blend of us create. What of me is worth taking aside from my heart n loyalty. Will his hair curl, will he be tall, will Baby Shep charm me from the first curve of his lips, so like his father.

I wonder like in legends of the fall, will I get the quiet time in my life… Will my inner Tristan be able to quell the bear. After all of the loss is this my win? My sideways. My side B. It sure feels like it.

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IN a little bar in the smack middle of nowhere Sully once told our grieving friend that his life wasn’t over… that he would get his last chance dance he just had to wait till he heard the right song. I jotted that in my diary.

So barefoot and heavily pregnant I sway with him to old lost get back boogie tunes … the romance, the words and deeds of a last chance dance.

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Murphy the Borrow Dog

Every hero deserves his story told…. So I will do that, with all the gratitude and love in my heart.

Murphy found us, we didn’t find him. Almost a decade and half ago in a very far off land My Aide team was working with refugees. It was a dark time, heart wrenching work… we had an Irish Dr from an adjoining aide team working w Kiks, our team Dr.

His name was Murphy.

The original Murphy and Tippy were helping Kiks with a very sick patient when this frail thin puppy appeared… from literally out of nowhere. Stray dogs were routine…. but they didn’t tend to hang out or seek you out for anything other then food. This little guy just sat outside the tent n watched. Almost right off he caught the attention of Dr Murphy… saying nothing to anyone, he opened a can of tuna fish n poured a cup of water n set it front of the puppy. The puppy just sat there. Ever the caregiver, Murphy hand fed the puppy and a bond was formed. Over the next months the puppy blossomed, sat for hours on end outside the medical tent waiting for Murphy followed him everywhere…slept at his bedside… eyes following him all day long. you know, this work we did… it makes a part of u long for home, for the people u love most, for a degree of normalcy… and this puppy well, he made us all think about what was at home, about loose ends and life decisions. This little ragbone fur baby was a catalyst for so many of us. He became the turning point in the story.

Dr Murphy n two members of his team were killed on a supply run. Tippy should have been with him but had stomach ailment. The guilt crushed him. I’ll never forget that night, two teams sat there in grief staring at a small puppy. Rusty, my right hand, a tall thin red head freckle of a man scooped him up and looked at us all, and said the pup needs a name, we r keeping him. Tippy quietly said, we’ll call him Murphy and so it began… Murphy’s road home to the USA was a long twisty exercise in frustration. So he was frequently loaned out on our furloughs home. He had the most chill temperament. Content to sit beside anyone that would have him… grateful wagging tail when u rubbed behind his ears. Ever so gentle with children, he was constantly borrowed by the local kids. He was everything I adore in a man in canine form.

Murphy became an American and came to live with Tippy and his brother James. He had this eerie habit of knowing when people were suffering. He would lie right by them, follow them around, make small whines when they left his sight. As fae as this sounds, he was a quiet source of comfort to so many of us. Like that one friend who doesn’t have to say anything, just comforts u with their very presence. Tippy fell in love with a beautiful red haired woman named Kait. To see our gentle friend find such happiness was truly one of the most magical events I’ve witnessed in my life. They married and had a little girl names Isabella. My friend was as content as one can be. Murphy would sleep outside the baby’s room every night, so they began to leave the door open for him. In he would go, and lay on the rug beside the crib. Protecting what Tippy loved most. On a rainy night, Tippy small family was killed on impact by a drunk driver. Tippy was inconsolable. As we all tried desperately to hold our friend together, we noticed that Murphy had taken the habit of nosing his hand to get him to let him closer. He would lean against his leg and lay atop his feet. Our boss, ever the father of his band of lost souls, took the steps to get a animal passport for Murphy, no easy feat, andfor almost two years Ole Murphy became a world traveler. Do you know, my hand on my heart, every situation, everywhere we went… he seemed to find those that needed him most, he would have a snuggle, keep quiet company and exude his special brand of Murphy love.

So many years and life changes later, I wound up in Oregon. Living temporarily in the house of my old boss. Tippy and Sully were working for my old Boss in a new org and Tippy brought Murphy over to see me..always a laid back dog … yet when Tippy let him out of the car, he uncharacteristically ran to me. Dancing around n jumping up until I kneeled down. He made noises n licked me, pawing at me. I buried my face in his coat and I knew somehow this was sign everything was going to be ok… I fell deeply in love with Sully and moved in his house where Tippy, James were living. Having access to Murphy all the time, healed a very large broken shard in me. Sully was madly in love with Murphy, he brought out the boy under the tough man, he would speak to him in silly voices, lay his head on Murphy’s side, hug him to him. It touched all of us immensely.

When I found out that Kiks was dying of cancer I made the choice to bring her and her children here to be with us. The chaos and angst of making that happen was intense. I wondered if what I was doing was right for everyone involved… the day came, they arrived and a voodoo swamp thing occurred. In the twilight of his life, standing there in the kitchen, Murphy the borrow dog found his truest love. A very small boy named Dutch. It was instant n mutual. They were two peas in a pod. You see Murphy knew in his way that this little boy would need him more then any of us ever had. And so it began… he followed him everywhere. Slept beside him, sat by his feet as he ate. Watched over him as he played. Dutch brushed him n hugged him, whispered his secrets in his ears. Used him as a pillow when he watched TV. The dawn we knew would be Kik’s last I woke Dutch and dressed him in his Superman shirt. He tied his Superman snuggle blanket around Dutch and together they went to say good bye. When his grief overtook him he buried his little face into Murphy and Murphy laid his jaw on Dutch’s head. They stayed like that for some time as the tear flowed n Murphy did what we could not.

I’ll never forget the day Tippy officially gave Murphy to Dutch. He said that Murphy was no longer a borrow dog, he’d found his true home in Dutch’s heart. There r moments in life u r grateful to just have the privilege to witness, n Dutch telling Murphy he was his forever was one of them.

These r just the stories I can tell about Murphy and retain some anonymity. He gave faithful love n comfort to so many people. Loaned out his furry brand of friendship. So as Tippy and Sully spent those last mins with Murphy, I held Dutch and told many of those secret stories…The Legend of Murphy the Borrow Dog.

RIP Murph

Forgive

 I lost my will to tell the stories of my life on Feb 14 of this year. I found solace in the favored novels of my past, in the scratch n pop of the music. In the patter and lives of my brethren. I spread the ashes of my mermaid, I took her kids as my own…I hiked the trails as if I could exorcise the pain inside me and when that didn’t work, I got drunk with my demons as often as I could… I worked so hard as if my dead would rise through my good deeds. I took on more and more. Because if I filled up the minutes of every hour, I didn’t have to remember.  I didn’t have to mourn all the endings. 

Somehow, IN this darkness, in moments of raw fury, from a heated passion ….in our 40’s we created a child…. AGAINST EVERY ODD and with every  brick in my body’s temple stacked against us… yet this beautiful boy bean grows so strong.

The pregnancy has been so fucking hard. Constant fear for my and the bean’s health. White knuckling thru nights and crying in closets, pantry and showers, so no one could hear me. Wondering what in the hell I was doing… if I die what will the fallout be for my son, for Kik’s kids… could I handle it if the bean didn’t make it… if there was a ghost in my soul, I hunted it. I let the boogie man in and threw my self at him. 

It was and is constant loop in my head…leave from my job, constant fear, little rest… Worry about money, in and out of the hospital…My son’s jealousy and acceptance… my mother’s intense fear she will lose her only daughter…then my moms cancer diagnosis, my Godchildren’s grief. Sully going into the private sector after a liftime of service work. The nightmares of the past. The many friends who passive aggressively told me I’m insane having a child at my age & with my reproduction n health issues… over n over again…

But somehow…I kept going, willing this bean to grow…I bent to the will of the Drs and my beautiful man. Sully & I learned each other, beyond the FACTS gained from two decades of friendship. Life continued in this house coexisting  along side the shade of death. 

The self hatred, while quiet was insidious. There was so much change in our lives…it ate at me. I was truly afraid to hope, to see the beauty in my body as a vessel of life. The nursery sat in boxes and bags. Sully would start painting a wall and I would shake n cry, buying into a snake oil voodoo fear. The poor man has assembled the crib and unassembled it at 2am fighting off his own tears. He hid in the cold garage and fixed up an old bassinet…he asked his mom for his childhood books. He bought blankets, found a tiny plaid shirt,a Saints onesie and Seahawks bib. He amassed a collection of silly tees with Dad jokes on them. He hid all of this in his closet. Visiting his hope each day and dipping into his prayers with a smile. 

He held me so gently in the night as my stomach ached and I recounted every bad thing that’s ever happened. He made hour long drives to buy me a specific pickle. He took me to a lodge on the mountain where Kiks ashes r spread n gave me a red balloon so I could let our baby news float up n whisper to her.

He kissed my naked skin, every inch, ever scar, every mark. He made me feel beautiful in the space between our bodies as he so carefully loved me. A contrast to our usual wild n tumble sexual style.

On his birthday he put a ring on my finger as if no other man had ever dared to love me as much as he does. He asked me in the same place he first told me he loved me. He told me I was a storm and he could only ever ask me in the rain.  

Yet still, the inner turmoil bubbled.

Last time I felt hope like this, I got on a plane, with Taylor Swift singing Begin AGAIN in my ears and moved to the UK. Marking the darkest period of my life…I’ve grown so used to surviving the bad I don’t trust the good.

Last night, Sully caught me staring at him. He cupped my face with his big paw n kissed me so gently, it made my heart ache.

 He turned out the lights n lay beside me and told the baby in my belly the story of when I drew a heart on his chest and he fell in love with me, so very many years ago. 

This morning we were like fresh young lovers. Excitement was palpable.  Gentle music was playing and the heartbeat of our child kept time. And then… I weep as I write this, my beautiful Shepard was visible… we watched the monitor as he moved and  wiggled. Just as when I was child of 8, I was rendered speechless.

  I opened my mouth to speak and no sound escaped. I held Sullys hand so tightly, I let hope in, I allowed myself a different ending to this dream. And then the baby bean smiled and all the words broke free baptised with more tears… My voice whispered yet echoed in my soul… “he has your smile.”

 The grin that melts my heart, that comforts me, that beguiling charming as hell rakish twist of lips. 

We left beaming and in tears. I danced in the rain and he laughed smiling wide. We kissed in the truck and sent the photos to our parents. I immediately sent the photos to the baby bean’s namesake, my first Shepard …my Monsignor. Who rung me straightaway… words of love, of history, of grief n hope were exchanged. 

He asked his god to look after me, he asked me again to forgive Andy… and then he repeated this and I actually heard it…

“If you cannot forgive this man and his sins, then forgive yourself, release the past, release your choices made. Release the pain. Allow the light in. Rejoice in the present.”

I cried, again. 

I sat down in the center of our bed when got home and watched the rain. I relived every moment that took me from the UK to here, to this moment. I stared at the pictures of our unborn baby. I got up and began to pace, my past flickering past like an old movie reel. I sat on the floor and with shaking hands I came here n I’ve found my words.

I survived. I told the truth and was still able to breathe when few believed me.

 I healed my relationship with my son.

 I forgave all of those who judged me by Andys lies. 
 I made peace with my best girl and I stayed within her reach, until she slipped into the mystic. 

I found a place in this world that needed my heart and I set out to take care of what was in my reach. 



I paid into my karma. I fought hard for the people who needed me. I stayed true to my passionate nature. I finally let myself love with all of my heart, a man who shows me every day, that while he is as flawed as I am… he loves me without reservation. He became in the truest sense of the team unit name, a man who would lie for me and die for me. I paused in this reflection, in the embracing of my joy and I walked out and asked Sully to build this baby’s crib because, I didn’t give up and die in that field below the Abbey’ s wall.  I ran. 

I forgive me. I forgive me. I finally forgive me.

To be Continued

 

She slipped into the Mystic on the morning of St Valentines day. I lost my words.

A hard coarse vegetation formed a skin around me. I had a pain that could not be expelled. Because the pain had no direct name or reason. It was more than the death of my friend, my lover, my mermaid. It was the death of an era. The who of I was, to the after of what remained.

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In a complicated love triangle worthy of a Shakespearen treatment or a Maury Povich episode we had twisted ourselves into an eternal knot. Each of us loving each other at a separate time and on a few occasions, all together. Then three became two and The Queen left The King of the River, so that he might love the other SHE, who bore sea glass eyes, raspberry lips and a need to reside by the calm.

Sepia toned years before I had stood at an altar with his child inside of me, in a wedding dress with all of our hometown to see. I survived him leaving me there, I survived all the losses that came after. I forgave every hurt, every bruise on my soul because he was my River King since the time when I couldnt speak.  He gave me a family. He gave me a legend. He gave me undying love. He ran barefoot with me in the mist of a New Orleans morning and kissed me where the sidewalk ends. He fought my battles, my demons and my temper.

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He was the kind of man who burned t0o bright.

They started with me. On a birthday many years ago, Kiks shyly kissed me. IN the most erotic n loving of gifts, coupled with so much merry laughter we all three became one. He and I had been together as lovers off and on for ages. But as she seared my skin with her touch she won his heart. The man who could remain faithful to no one, fell completely and irrevocably.

He waited years for her. Refusing to be with anyone for longer than a dalliance. His heart kept chaste for her. It used to burn. It used to hurt like slicing glass. It was messy and storied. But we, we were t0o much alike. Two shafts of light. Two children of the river. What made us inseparable in the end was what kept us apart. We had a damage inside that drove us and the reality, was that we needed a calm. A solid. We romanticized normal and swore how we would be, when we grew to know better.

The darkness ate him in the grey time of my life. And the man who always was… was no more. I came home. I saw Kiks and in her there was a spark of him. A continuation of that love. A personification in his children… I drowned my demons, I opened my heart like he taught me to when I was wee. I stood the regal brave Queen and let nothing deter me, nothing. I ran that river now for the memory of all the love we had shared.

There is nothing like the death of a piece of your identity. Age feels heavier, My body misshapen with it, grief clouds my actions like clogged arteries. It’s in a way, as if I don’t know me anymore. The me after them.

Today, after weeks of unending rain, the sun shone. The mountains glistened under a Maxfield Parrish sky. Top down with me driving, Sully and I drove the river of where my home is now and my shell cracked. We bought fresh Dungeness crab and local beer. We bought Hydrangeas plants like we grew up with in the South. We kissed in the foyer and wound up naked and entwined on the rug. We were two flawed and aged people who could only see the beauty in each other that remains.  As we danced n cooked in our kitchen, there was a feeling of calm, of normal.

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A picture came thru from my Monsignor, then one from Teddy of my Lie n Die team, then from Beau my child’s father via his sister, then Kyle-Kevin’s brother… All different angles and distances… Yet all showing the same thing. My Son playing the saxophone on the bank of the very River I ran, when I was Queen to my King. In our Hometown… the symbolic baton was passed.

Because he has known me for near 20 years, Sully put his arms around me as we sat out on the deck watching the sun go. He pet my hair back from my face and said…..

“There are new rivers to run and you will always, always be the Queen of them.”

I am not young anymore, I am in the middle. I may have a child’s glee but I have a woman’s past. I may not be beautiful but my face has character. My heart has room. My body has passion. My soul has so so so many stories.  I am grateful for the fortune of all the loves I have had. That I survived the losses n knocks. I could have had less and I always had more.

They are here. In the mist that lingers at dawn. In the budding green of the new spring. In the lingering cold that caps the mountain. They are beneath my skin, forever enshrined in the unfinished and unfinal portion of my heart. They are the bones of my story. They are and will forever be…. to continued.

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The Superman Shirts

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I was sitting with Kiks tonight.

The door cracked open and little Dutch peeked in, catching me crying. Hesitantly he walked over to me, climbing up in to my lap as Murphy the borrow dog pushed in behind him. Ever so quietly he said “Pippa is it time for the superman shirts?”

My heart burst into a thousand shatters. I hated myself for every mistake I have ever made. I hated Kevin for dying. I hate life for always hurting.  Hate, anger, rage boiled up giving me strength… “Yes baby, it is.” I stood up holding him, his arms going tight around my neck. We quietly went back to his room where I opened the bottom drawer of his dresser. Neatly folded inside, 14 different Superman tshirts. I pulled his pajama top off of his string-bean body and helped him put on the one he chose. He smoothed the emblem over his chest and looked at me… Fat tears and woobly lips.  I raised my hand palms out, he matched mine.. as his father had done when I was 8 and his father 12. I got you I said. I got you he replied. Then we folded fingers in holding hands.  His face was so like his fathers I felt unhinged. We went over to the big chair, I wrapped a blanket around us as the dog settled at ur feet.

I explained again how his mama was, that in the next days they would have to give her special medicine to help her not hurt. N that she would have to sleep more and one day.. very gently she would go and float like the red balloons we release into the sky and go be with his daddy forevermore. But that Superman shirts were going to help him… They would give him strength when he didn’t have it. Give him bravery when he was afraid. And soothe him when he was sad…One every day for 14 days then start over… Because Superman is a hero…

He held me so tightly. Tell me a story about my Mama he whispered…….. then I faltered, so upset because he always asks for stories about his father. I pet his beautiful face and began a story of his mother and father.  About the big giant oak tree his daddy picked to ask  his mama to be his wife, how his daddy was so in love with her. And how happy I was that the two people I loved most has found shelter in each other. I told him stories of how fierce his mama was… All the places we had been together so that his mama could fix and heal. I told him that his mama was my hero.  and since she was my hero that meant that he, Dutch, was my little superhero…His eyelids faltered so I managed to get him in his bed. The old wise borrow dog shuffled over to lay directly against his bed.

I went back in to check on Kiks as Doc brought in the equipment. In the morning we would rent the rest of the medical gear as needed, Id managed to sidestep Hospice and call on the favors of aide workers and Orgs near me.  Id managed to scrape together money and hands to help… Because thats what I do.  That’s my strength. I went into a drugged sleep not accepting the words No or Can’t.

It is the afternoon after last night and I sit here… medical machines and paraphernalia have transformed this room. Despite scented candles burning there is that hospital smell. My girl is asleep. SO frail on her way to ethereal.  I look at the wedding dress hanging on a hook and her wish tree, filled with written leaves of love. I look at the framed photos of all the moments that have come to pass. When Monsignor was here, I had him pray with me over Kevin’s prayer cards and my sacred rosary… Because I am always game for a miracle of time or fairy-tale of comfort…. And I realized somewhat angrily that I am utterly ill equipped for what is to come. No more grand gestures to give her strength…  no more pleas or promises fulfilled. I’ve outdone myself straight out of a job. Her children have a father in Nick, her now husband. They have a transitional home, they have new future where they will be surrounded by Kevin’s family and have Nick as well. They have God-Parents. They have so much love and my beautiful girl, with her seaglass eyes and rasberry lips is safe and ever so loved here in the grip of all of us.  In trip after trip, top down, wind in our hair we took the mountain on. I have every hope wish and worry recorded in my book. She picked all of the music she wanted to leave behind. She screamed into the wind… She begged, she wept the kind of tears that have altered me. I controlled every moment as best I could. Memory making, giving her grand vistas, showing her dreams were hers for the taking yet.

AND so much love bloomed …She fell in love with the medic from our lie and die team. A man who we jokingly called the meanest man in the world became the kind of moral, fierce warrior that holds babies with ease, has a deep well of patience & humanity. He is his best self now. The children and Kik’s love broke the stone and drew out the man from within. IN the loving of her, many long strained relationships from a lot of us healed. None of us is perfect. But Kiks comes pretty damn close. She used to say I was the heart and the anger heat and she was the calm and methodical. Between us we shaped glass. We tempered the sights of destruction with an ability to see past it. We succeeded where others didnt because our team…each member, uniquely flawed and blessed. So I sit here about to go and hunt down a Superman doll to buy, as Dutch has a lost look in his eyes as he quietly plays with a castle book on the floor of his mamas room. Eva wouldn’t eat her breakfast and fussed during lunch. And I wonder does she sense it a  year?

I am trying so hard to make these nexts days.. or maybe weeks, not filled with sadness. But I am running out of magic. I dont have the right words, I used them all. I miss my man. I miss my son. I miss my parents. I am so scared I envy the magic of Superman shirts.

I almost didn’t write this. But I keep saying the wrong words in the wrong way because I am utterly lost and angry.

 

 

 

 

Dawn

I stayed up all night.. making lanterns to light a path..

… a wish tree full of hearts  for the guest to write on. I finished her bridal comb to attach to her veil. I went over my lists… I yawned and stretched, hit the hallway and suddenly Nick was coming down the stairs.. Kiks needed me. She has been losing sight all of the sudden combined with a muddled head feeling.. as if she was wrapped in cotton wool n drowning.. she describes it….it causes her to panic to the point where she can’t breathe well.


I climbed into bed with her… I petted her face. I held her head. I gripped her hands… I told her breathe… I took my  rosery and put it at her fingertips so she could feel the beads… I waited as her breathing slowed..her raspberry red lips curled. Her beautiful sea glass eyes found my love as it emanated and she breathed even, easier. I took lotion and began to rub her hands gently … we just were, tears in our eyes watching each other silently.

I fought alot of fights these weeks past… I took alot of shit because of who I am… the truth of who my people are. I had a longtime friend not stand by me as they should have. Persons mocked my bisexuality.. my fierce passion…. my loyalty.. my poetry of failure . My acceptance of deep Catholic faith, although I no longer believe. My service via peace corps and aide work, NGO. My family’s sacrifice… my face and body. My honor. My words and my tears for this exquisite lover of mine who lays dying as I write this.its been a really long time since I had to fight anymore.

I fed the trolls. I poked the bullies. I explained myself when there was no need-This is what I was told. Chastised like a child. 

I WAS 8 years old. I have told this story in parts. I was 8 years fucking old. I was beaten and revoltingly assaulted in what was a hate crime at 8 by other older kids. BECAUSE I WAS SMALL. BECAUSE  I HAD A HISPANIC LAST NAME. BECAUSE I HAD A WALNUT COMPLECTION.BECAUSE MY MOTHER WAS SELF MADE AND DIFFERENT. BECAUSE IT WAS A IGNORANCE, BIGOTRY… I was hospitalized.. I stopped speaking completely…They told my Mama it was shock.

 My mother was pregnant with what would have been my half-sibling, she lost it in her unending grief.  it WASN’T just a beating at the hands of children. It went further with long lasting echos. In my silent voiced self I swallowed that as my fault. My Grandparents came to stay a long while… everything changed. Until my Grams took to me to me what I call a Baby priest. It’s a young priest with training wheels.

He taught me bravery. He gave me a haven. He introduced me to the nuns at my new school. Where they didn’t care that I didn’t speak or have a Spanish name. They didn’t care that I was undersized n shy. THE Nuns integrated me into normalcy… THEY taught me the true meaning of acceptance… to see neither color…religion or wealth. TO just be a child of God, no difference.   It was a year that shaped the rest of my life, no matter how I shoved it down.

Kiks is afraid of the world she leaves her children behind in. Can you blame her? It’s 2017 and I am still being called a faggot. TRUMP is the president. Women’s bodies r being governed. Race and religion are being singled out in A WAY THAT NOT EVEN 9/11 STIRRED UP.  The hate reeks like sweat. 

Friends of mine in the military fighting each other with vicious words.. when they fight for the same fucking country. I feel altered. I feel angry. I feel misunderstood. I feel forgotten by a democracy that I carried in my heart as a calling card. 

I used to depart.. every ride to everywhere we dropped…. Hello my name is …… this is my team…this our gear.. we r here to help. Where do u need us?  We were a symbol of hope. A goddamn signal.. beacon…that they were heard, human and worthy. NOW America, my country is becoming more than a joke, its becomeing a bully.My love for this woman, a Dr… who’s only mission in life was to heal/care those who had no voice.. is a mockery.

I will not stand down. I will not shut up. I will not be easy. I WILL not calm. I WILL NOT hide my love, my sexuality, I will not stop being  the product of the many nations that make me up. I WILL NOT STOP CRYING.

YOU WILL NOT SHAME ME. YOU WILL NOT SILENCE ME. I will yell, I will fight.Even and if, I am the only one shouting…. I’ll shout louder.

Kiks was my lover and she is still my friend. And I fight for her. And the 8yr old me,  all the others… who have fought the dim of the shade. 

MY girl, my Sunday best, my friend, my Doc. My Kiks. MY LU😢….My child’s godmother. MY RASPBERRY LIPPED temptress. The sense in my world. THE one who always held the other hand that Rusty didn’t hold. Who made me into the person that gets up and rises at my weakest times… No, I will not bow. I will fight. I will fight, always. 

NONE LIKE US AND None like us.




And in the end

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I was laying here with my man trying to relax into sleep via a silly movie… Tomorrow the last remaining members of my lie and die team fly in from points away.The band is getting back together for one last concert run. For the last, most likely time that Kiks will be able to be Kiks..

I lay twisting the blanket around my finger.. My guy’s big hand in my curls stroking my head. My phone buzzes with a call. I pop up.. strangely jarred from the life around me.. It’s Billy, my recently former boss. Hey I answer slightly groggy.

“You did it Red, fucking clever bitch you. He signed it….Fucking signed it!!” Came a tear clogged male Billy voice over the wire…..My heart stopped. I swear it did. I actually stopped breathing.Then as if jolted by electricity I popped up an started dancing around the room….. Back an forth in emotions, from laughter, victory and tears….Hugging Sully, pushing the phone into Sully’s hands so Billy could tell him…Racing up the stairs and busting in on Kiks and Nick.. Crying…. Laughing…

My Boss’s Organization begins again in late Jan of 2017,BUT WITH… A new partner on board. A man after my own heart. Cynical but with a porridge soul. A man who believes money and time comes with a toll to humankind. Welcome to the jungle, u blessed bastard,  I want to say…..

Sometimes I get so lost in whats happened to me these past few years that I forget who I fought so fuckin hard to be. The sacrifice I made the loved ones in my life suffer thru, so that I could walk in the light of what I felt was needed of me. Of what was just. Not like others couldn’t do my job or be me… But just maybe… I am unique. One of a kind. Maybe this is my true calling. Maybe I just get to say and own.. I am good at what I do as a ball busting bitch.

In this past year, I feel like I am bragging when I try and explain the things my Lie and Die aide team accomplished. People not in the life, either get it or call me a bleeding heart… But not many understand the service aspect. That it comes before your children. Your mate. Your life… even now, I have struggled with Sully’s dedication in his new org. He has struggled with my wanting to immerse myself in the international aspect of Billy’s org which caused me to have a wake up time of 3:30 am and the having to go back to old haunts of my aide {cant say the name} work days.. maybe best left behind. But it is honestly where I find my bliss. My true state of what y’all call zen.

I thought alot about the why and whats of how people enter work in the charity or aide industry as I have been writing this proposal- that was accepted tonight at a dinner meeting…I eschewed formal business language and legal in the end. I spoke from what I believed was the collective heart of Billy’s people and anyone who was ever 19 to 49 and signs onto aide work thinking they will always be forever young…

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We lost more than we should have. Not a damn one of us came out ok. Half of my crew is dead and we are all in our forties. But we created the kind of children atheist pray for. We saw vistas and shifting sands. We are artists in our deeds. We are lovers who love harder. We dare those who tell us to stand down. We are stars who shine for each other. We are stupid stubborn. We are so pure even in our failings. We dream the dream in the middle of the chaos and destruction. We saw where the nails held the board, where fresh water streamed from. What shot might save a life. We bent and bowed with each twist and turn of our evocation. WE faced mass dead, orphans without a system, disease, ignorance distrust. Religion.War. Natural disaster. Female circumcision. So many medical conditions it boggles.  Shunning and starvation of albino children.and that was just the start of journey….That was just my 30s

We made it thru lice, ticks, ricks, rats, mice, snakes, elephants storming, rotgut… dengue fever, malaria, typhoid, food poisoning, rape, mers,  dysteria.. then moved on to so many CDC issues with our disaster international call outs that we were HOT. A tag long wished for in a different meaning.. LOL.

I have my group, but there are thousands of us. In every area of aide. N thats what I believe in. The big picture. Every venue of Hope. Sully laughed tonight with such joy as he said… Inside your head is such a choir, baby. He is right. I believe I am one person with a vision, with a mission and if I tell another and they tell another.. If we all come together in a cacophony of voices and tones we become a choir of change.  I have seen it in practice.

So yes. I wrote a business proposal in theory.

and yes…. I am a charming fucking git-But I also am stubborn and tenacious.I don’t normally burn business bridges… I keep in touch. I help when called on. I hold favors like a check in my work. And I never hide who I am.

I hesitated on my way upstairs tonight…there was such a huge fight between Kiks and Nick her end of life lover earlier..

She is scared shitless. She is dying and it is happening without mercy or dignity.  She and I tried to drive to the top of the mountain this early AM and the ice was so slick it was dangerous. I should have and normally I would have pushed on. But I felt an abundance of caution. These kids have her for only so long and my beautiful boy waits patiently for his mama as well.It just seemed wrong and yet she so wanted to reach seeing the peak of Mt Hood again.

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This life, this calling we have in ur blood.. well it demands such crazy things to remind us that we are relevant.. That we are in our minds at least.. The young. The worthy. The strong.

But what we forget that in the end…Is…. It makes us legendary.  for just a few.

SO I will carry with me the internal light of all my gone, the fading light of those leaving and the every present heartbeats of those who stand by….Up to the mountain tomorrow. and for all of my day afterwards…