22 September, 2019


Oh good grief.

On Thursday, I went for a walk to find a spot to write that was out of the house. I sat down in a new restaurant and wrote most of a new flash fiction... but I'm so lost in the timezones that the next day I was going to bed before I realized it was Friday. 

Oh, and Friday was the day we went out to celebrate Brett's birthday, so I had overdone it a bit and was completely non-functional on Saturday. The older I get, the harder it is to recover, and yet I haven't learned that lesson. 

Good news is, as much as I am missing my blogging goals, I am working on my book. I'm thinking of making this next edit my NanoWriMo project. 

Will you be participating in NanoWriMo? What's your handle? We can buddy up!

09 September, 2019

Quick as a Wink

I'm not taking the whole month I had allotted for this trip. I'm glad I made that month available, but my brother's family are trying to return to life as of Wednesday, and my presence is no longer needed.

I am keeping an open line to God during this whole trip and it's amazing, when you learn to listen. As it turns out, this Friday I will be in transit again, so there will again not be any Fiction Friday, but I'm hoping next week to resume a schedule.

This trip has been illuminating. My nephew was well-loved, and there were about 800 people at visitation, and a very crowded church for the funeral. A few things were cute and unifying:

The high school soccer team he'd just graduated out of all showed up wearing their jerseys. They all sat together, too. 

His pall bearers all wore aviator sunglasses, as he used to do. 

When I had packed for this trip, I had tossed two pink dress shirts into my suitcase, and thought I'd wear one to the funeral. The morning of the funeral, I was considering a darker colored shirt and - silly and insignificant a detail as a shirt might be - I said a quick prayer. I wore the pink. When I arrived, my brother asked, "Who told you about the pink thing?" What pink thing? Turns out pink was his favorite color. He felt that color described him. He was wearing his favorite pink bow-tie in the casket. The whole family was going to wear at least a touch of pink. And that was the only color of dress shirt I had brought! 

It's a weird detail, but I think they appreciated it.

I'm so glad I made the trip. Looking at him lying there, it was clear he was gone. The color was wrong, his freckles were covered and without his perpetual grin, his cheeks had fallen. It was important to see that, and recognize that his soul is no longer here.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law and niece took me to Walmart. In the hair-care aisle, SIL suddenly was overcome at the normalcy of it. Things are not normal anymore. The new normal will never be right. They are holding it together, but grief strikes in the most random of moments. For me too, and for each of us.

I have a sister with a son the same age. Our brother had to take her by the hand to look in the casket. I think this is harder on her than she's been letting on.

Quick as a wink, people were leaving town, and decisions are being made about flowers, and photos, and memorials. Tomorrow is the last day, graveside, and then I will head up to Chicago with some of our mutual friends. 

Here ends a life. A life well-lived, as short as it was.

06 September, 2019

No Fiction Today

No Fiction Friday here today.

If all goes well, I have landed in the US this Friday morning. It's the funeral weekend. In a sudden rush, we figured out all the problems with me making this trip at this time, and turned them into mere hurdles to jump over. I will have to stay in the States for a month, because I'll need to get a new passport while I'm there, and all kinds of other #ExpatLife issues, but at least I will be there for my brother and his family.

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Especially my sister-in-law, who found the body. I cannot imagine.

It's going to be a rough few days. 
And from then on, of course. 
But this weekend will be hard, and I'll be without my rock, my husband, my partner, my better half in so many respects. He is amazing in a crisis, but cannot make the trip with me. 

Prayers much appreciated.

02 September, 2019

An Ounce of Peace is All I Want For You

Today's title is taken from the lyrics of "Hate Me" by Blue October.  This is inspired by the September Song Project (check it out here) that I found out about on JZ's blog (A Reluctant Bitch). However, I will not link up to the party today, because this post is deeply personal.
I have no words.
I am writing this to try to accumulate some words that make sense of a senseless situation.

I snatched maybe an hour of sleep last night, sometime after 4:30 a.m., so this may not even be coherent.

At around 9:40 last night I turned off my phone to go to sleep.  That's about 10:40 Sunday morning in the US EDT, where my parents live.

I couldn't sleep. I tried my essential oils. I tried a sleep meditation. I tossed and turned, never really reaching that required REM.

Finally at 12:24, I saw a blinking light on my phone. It was a message from my eldest sister alluding to bad news from our brother. So I messaged back that I wasn't sleeping, so if she wanted, we could chat. She called.

My nephew, home from college for the long weekend, hung himself in his bedroom. My brother and his wife returned home from running errands on Saturday and found him. I cannot imagine. A parent's worst nightmare. He was 18. He'd only been at college for about two weeks.

He was well-liked, the life of the party, energetic, tortured his sister regularly like a normal brother, soccer-star at his school, good looking, ambitious; nobody saw this. And there was no note. I have a weird inkling to hope that, since there was no note, maybe it was an accident? Maybe during those first two weeks of his freshman year, the guys were talking about auto-erotic asphyxiation and he wanted to try it? I don't know why that would be preferable in my mind, and maybe I should talk to a counselor about that. But then I remember, when I was suicidal, decades ago, I had no intention to leave a note. I didn't go through with it, so it doesn't matter, but as much as TV and the movies want us to believe there's usually a note, that's not necessarily so. Was he depressed? Who knows. 

My brother is still going through locked accounts to see if there's any hint online. My darling husband suggested that, with no note, no clearly defined reason, there may be some ugly discoveries cropping up in the next few days.

I cannot imagine having to go through that. My head is a whirl of questions. It seems like the only question is "why?", but that's a HUGE question! What circumstances led to this? Was it an ongoing situation in his brain? Were we all blind? Had he gotten into trouble at school and couldn't face the music? Is there some dark secret he's hiding?

My writer's mind wants to be able to describe the situation. I want to know details of what my brother and sister-in-law went through, but that is HORRIBLE! I think I thirst for detail in every situation because my family is severely deficient in the communication department regarding even normal things people talk about. It's not my business anyway.

Oh, incidentally, the family line ended with him. In the traditional sense. This nephew was the only male descendant of my father's family in that generation. My dad was one of six, including four boys, three of whom had sons who might have passed on the family name. Of the four boys born to my generation, only my brother had a biological son. (One has a step-son, who will pass on the name, but not the genes.) It's a tiny, insignificant detail, but my brother was one of those people who cares about things like that.

The suicide was on Saturday (from the secondhand information I have received). Sunday morning, my brother called Mom. She was just finishing up Bible study at church and her phone, which almost never rings, rang. By the time she left the room, it stopped, but Dad's phone was ringing. They joined their pastor in a private room and my brother made sure that Dad (with a weak heart) was seated, before explaining what happened.

The time that phone call took place? Sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. EDT Sunday morning. Exactly when I was finding myself unable to sleep. And for the rest of the night, I talked to my sister, talked to my mom, messaged my brother, talked to my husband, messaged my other sister, my niece and my sister-in-law, then had a chat conversation with the first sister again, since I was still awake after 3:00 a.m.

I finally drifted off, and woke up crying. 

It's so surreal. The nearest grief I've experienced was my grandmother's death. I thought my next grief would surely be my dad. Today, I can do things - like write this - but I can't stop and think. That's when the tears come again. So the trick is to stay active. I did a great workout this morning, walked to the market and back, then out for breakfast, then out to the shops, then put away laundry... 

As I said, I'm only writing this to try to form words. I really hoped it would help. I can't talk to anyone, because it's not public knowledge yet and anyone I would talk to about it knows my brother and might spill it before they are ready to share. This blog is my safe haven that no one IRL knows about. 

Sorry if it's jarring to you. It's jarring to me.