This picture popped up in my memories today on Facebook and made me smile. Michel and I fought, a lot. He thought I was spoiled. I was. We argued, a lot. I’d only learn in time and the passing of years what he meant. I learned so many lessons from him. How to live a simple life, to love and respect nature, to take long walks everyday, (like ten miles burn your ass and legs walks), how to laugh at yourself and others, how to work out, how to eat clean, and how to be here now. How to love. People, animals, life. The basics. All of it. Sometimes when I walk the nature trails with Lupe I can hear him, “hurry up connasse” and so I pick up the pace. And thank god for the days spent in his company in the sun, the fondest memories that a person shares with you are the ones that sustain us. I do the dishes, make my bed and celebrate another year (however hard, tragic, and chaotic) around the sun. Lost loved ones leave open wounds that become stitches in our hearts, scar tissue and eventually leaving room to mend. To grow, and to learn. The heart expands even when broken by time and circumstance. Love lives on the wind that blows frigid and in an instant, Spring appears changing her course once again. Nature’s seasons were Michel’s happiest, simplest magical place and I am still learning how to be present like him. My New Year’s wish for you is that you never give up, even when the physical pain of losing a loved one or perhaps even yourself feels impossible, keep on pushing the boundaries, stripping away all the nonsense, the baggage, the noise, and trusting you will fill the empty spaces with love, and relearn to walk again. To die young is not the natural order but a life lived full, simple and serene is a gift to be opened with gratitude, compassion and humility. Go ahead make your mistakes. Like the worst, wildest fuckups you can dream. And if you’re lucky they’ll be a person, or persons who will challenge you to get up and walk tall again and again. The nostalgic pictures help us remember we were here, and life was good. I forget sometimes reverting back to that spoiled girl, only for a moment. And then I remember how lucky in love I have been.
“Burn me with the brush and indifference; scatter my ashes to the wind under the prettiest summer’s eve and her blazing, pink sun.” – Jacqueline Cioffa
“Shadow People” by Jackie Cioffa featured on Bleeding Ink via Feminine Collective
Duty, responsibility, obligation and drudge
I run around making false promises lying to myself
I must end this cycle of debt, hush-hush niceties and learn to live it
The oddity full of venom and regret
Regret for harsh words hurled in the face of others living in the continuum
The vortex seasonal cycle of disgust and disappointment
Passing judgment upon judgment and hanging no mirrors in my house
I am unable to see the pretty person’s reflection in glass
Wake up child and move on
Go, get, get on and get the hell out from under
The relentless abuse you swallow the misbegotten forgotten soul
The core is damaged from unwanted vocabulary, an unpleasant learned space and skin scratch uncomfortable place
Molestations and accusations what are these words?
I am innocence tossed in the trash long discarded
I have no choice but to make amends
To say, I’m sorry
Simple, two simple impossible words do not roll off the tongue
I’m sorry for so much wasted time
I’m sorry for doubting my perfectly imperfect being
I’m sorry for forever cursing and cussing the bright light burnt stars
I am after all worthy of love
A life filled with some resemblance of happy
I’m not asking for false pretenses or avoidance
Gut punch sharp zinger pain is necessary for growth
A second act?
To right a whole bunch of fall in formation wrongs
I shudder at the possibility of abundance where olfactory senses delight and grandiose dreams are free from jagged edge worries and boundaries
If I can’t be this plain and simple unruly self, who then?
Some other pleasing needing false misrepresentation?
And so, I make amends
And so, I choose to forgive my horrendously ugly fuckups, mishaps and misfortunes
And so, I will learn from the past and the present
Goodbye, old friend
I’ll meet you in the heavens where the orbs are light dancing and colliding transparent
A buoyancy and freedom of physical weight your human form has never known
The torrential, unrelenting downpours of distraught
The hell you experienced?
Dissipated, forgiven and forgotten in less than an instant
Time is not measured in increments
A myriad of wondrous, cheery, crazy beautiful light bright color streams encapsulate and flash brilliant
Hues and the most superfluous elegant words paint the world you left behind
In the orbs there is only purity and lightness of being
You can’t possibly see it, dream it or feel it
The weight disappears and floats upwards
Hope floats forever unbound
Do I know with complete certainty there is an afterlife waiting for me?
Of course, I don’t. This I cannot say.
I want my bubble to be filled with words floating by in a lighthearted stream of consciousness in no particular order.
Being human is hard and excruciating at times, I expel the pain onto the page and wait for cathartic transparency to come back around my way.
To the orbs, I place words with meaning in no varying array. My black and white truths become a grey concept and fade away. The dark cannot shine without the light.
Family, love, rape, anguish, hope, faith, purpose, death, life, home, heartbreak, birth, joy
The words lose their hold and I am set free
Last night ‘on the walk’ Lupe and I saw a shadow in the midnight black, bone-chilling distance. An elderly man lying helpless in the snow, black cold, car door wide open, -7 degrees below. He lives two doors down, a neighbor and I don’t know him at all. I tried to lift him with my will, powerless to pull him up by myself. I stayed close, reassuring him he’d be alright. My mind spinning, trying to figure out what to do. I finally bolted next door for help. Together Roberta (go Roberta) and I got him into his car back to semi-safety and warmth, nearly frozen. All because he wanted a pizza from Pizza Hut, his dignity and independence. I’m sad. I’m sorry for the millions of lonely people, elders with no one looking out for them. Nobody hardly knows or cares they exist. Ass frozen, bones cracking, all ninety pounds of the man matters, he has a story. Same as I, same as you. I’m no saint, no do-gooder just a person trying to survive with a shred of decency.
I am however hyper aware.
I understand how excruciatingly painful, palpable the loneliness feels even while surrounded and cocooned by deep love. My mother, an old woman now (I hate admitting that) anxiously watches out the window, awaiting my safe return. I know how blessed I am to look towards the house, to glimpse the shadow of a small person looking out. I smile inside, relax my breath. I know with absolute certainty one person is missing me when I’m gone.
Sometimes, I go away without leaving the insulated safety net of a home-built on fierce, ferocious, all-encompassing Mother-love. Sometimes I go away terrified I won’t find my way back. No matter how far I travel, the heart always knows instinctively the way home.
I’ll be more mindful now when I pass.
We are all like it or not, intertwined.
The way the stories breeze through my mind, much like the people I have loved and let go.
As I watch helpless, I cringe at the chaos that surrounds. These are dangerous times we live in. To love, dream, practice uncomfortable kindness. To choose hope.
I leave this place with tales spun from grass and held together by frayed twine.
Living is scary. Not living is well nothing, nothing at all. Moments scribbled on forgotten parchment, moving images I recall.
Will it matter, probably not. But, it matters now. Right here. Right now.
It was real for a moment, in my head and my heart.
It was so nice to dream.
excerpt Georgia Pine by Jacqueline Cioffa
“There is something about a seashore dwelling, how the wind blows steady, sweeping and swooshing problems away. They magically evaporate out to sea. Harry couldn’t know how blessed time and living inside that house would be. The home was evergreen, oversized planks, cool to the touch but so very warm inside. The picnic bench carved with etched markings, familiar names, some recent, others worn. Barely legible grooves recorded a family.”
When I’m stressed, I clean. When I’m confused, I clean. When I’m angry, I clean. Exhausted, nauseated, in full-blown Benzo withdrawal. Not permitted by my shrinks to travel, basically I’m assigned to the nut house. Only, this house arrest comes with a ton of perks, comfortable amenities. Yeah, you could this house is pretty clean. Benzo withdrawal is worse than heroine. You could say, that, yes could.
Just when I think I can’t take one more day of the absurdity that has become my existence, apparently I can. I blame the doctors in part, the shrinks, quacks, they don’t a clue what might work, and what won’t. Mental Illness meds that could very well kill you, they’re so quick to write a script. Well, that one didn’t work, let’s try this on top of that. Pretty soon, your brain is a full on pileup of conflicting signals, no wonder it’s lost without a roadmap. My beautiful mind, gets more and more tangled, lost inside forgotten memory, drooping eyelid, psychosomatic illness, blindness, hallucinations. They’ve really fuked you now, you have no choice but to go nuts. There’s no winding the hands back on the clock.
Me, I’m the anomaly. The med-resistant patient, the BiPolar opposite. I hate the drugs. Muscle rigor, swollen tongue, numbness, vertigo, ringing ears, eye paralysis, what’s next? Fuk off, you can keep your pink, white and yellow pills, in various doses of madness. When I can’t fight anymore, when I can’t find the will, I will look to the clock. With what’s left of my shredded dignity, faith, courage and hope, I’ll simply go, on my time. My brain, I’m donating to science.
I received ‘the phone call’, email. The sad news we dread, three times in one week. Each ring, every broken heart, gave me strength to fight the personal pain, fear and sorrow. Empathy takes over in tragedy, gratitude settles in. One loss hit hard, knocked the wind out. The loss of a child. I would’ve gladly given away some of my time, to his mother. I have lived so much beautiful, loved so deeply and laughed so loud, freely. Time doesn’t work like that, the hands do not stop. I will fight for her, silently, the unbearable loss. In honor of mother and child I will live, because that’s all I can do. I offer prayer, for the loved ones who’ve gone missing. Maybe they’re not missing at all, maybe they returned home. To an ethereal world where there is no pain, no disease, filled with Technicolor dreams, and Opal crystalline riches. Enough for us all. Home to an impeccably clean house, with five-star amenities and perks, and no sorrow.
Time tells me I’m here, for a reason. For now. Until I’m not.
And that is, just fine by me.
We talk about it. Yeah, we do. In my house, we talk about a lot. The mundane living stuff, movies, books, music, groceries, even the weather. And, death. We talk about that, too. Well, I do most of the talking. The persistent, detective’s daughter, ever annoying and inquisitive. The fervent need to know what comes next, how it should look, the driving force. The uncomfortable, inevitable last chapter. Well, you know. So yeah, we talk about the awfully, uncomfortable details. My most important person and me. The one that birthed me, gave me a life, the one that does the grunt work. Grinding up the gizzards for the holidays, the not so fun chores, traditions I rebuke. She watched as I make mistake after mistake, stuck on repeat. She told me to get up, brush it off, only to fall flat. Do it all over again. She did that, supported the triumphs and tears. So, I talk now. A lot. And I ask, one more time. Needing to get the ending right. She doesn’t want a confining box, that I’m sure. Never been boxed in before, why start now? Ashes are to be sprinkled, here and there. I know the exact, precision spots, the ideal time of day and year. I will do that, for her. I can do that, without being asked. Moral responsibility tells me so. She has her playlist composed, with all the familiar songs. The old favorites, classics that spanned a lifetime of happy, memories and intimate moments defined by a song. Per instruction, I’m to play them loud. To dance, sing and try to be happy. Celebrate this one life, no pity party necessary.
Chalk it up to morbid curiosity, the incessant need to know. I want the same, more or less. I’m spelling it out for you, now. No fuss, no muss. A quick mass to cover the bases. Ashes catch a ride on a spring, almost summer breeze, somersaults in mid-air without form, the spirit lives in the ether, light and easy. My playlist is a work in progress. I choose the songs carefully, with attention to detail. I’ve rocked out in stadiums, danced hot, sticky and sopping wet with delirious abandon, listened quietly to headphones, alone in the dark. Sitting by an open window legs perched on a sill, trying to get some relief from the overbearing, city heat. Feeling alive and independent. I revel in the silence and red stained lip from a half empty glass of Pinot Noir. The solitary me moment, the lone candle casts shadows upon the wall. I am moved to tears by a melody. A dance party. Yes, that’s exactly what I want. With happy colors and a lifetime’s intimately compiled playlist. A million, orange paper lanterns illuminate the night sky. A muffled, bass undertone lifts me up. Yes, that’s how heavenly it shall be. The maudlin, well-meaning, over thinker in me, has high hopes and glorified dreams.