I dreamt of you last night. It was so nice to see your beautiful face. You were laughing, tan, skin luminescent, summer blond silky hair straightened blowing in the breeze. You wore a hideous, teal colored poof dress and you were ridiculously happy.
Seven, almost eight years have passed. I wrote this when you left trying to make sense of the shock, grief, numbness and non-sensical. I held onto it until today. It’s time to share your story. You’d want me to help in anyway. Anyone out there suffering, struggling with Mental Illness, you’d help them no matter the cost. So, I use my voice and do my best for the both of us. It’s not nearly enough missing you, but it’ll have to do.
I write with my heart full of you, L.B.H.
The label neither one of us asked for. It’s what we got.
Red Velveteen Curtain Call
By Jacqueline Cioffa
Life doesn’t need movie star quality, reality TV, dramatic, sweeping cinematography.
It can be lived full, on an empty stage, in between the crooked walls, cracks and crevices. On the stage, the story is alive, tingling with possibility. It builds, moves, unfolds organically, the tale takes precedent and the words take hold. The spectator breathes it in, feels the emotion, the characters, mesmerized by the modern day theatrics.
Listen closely, and get swept away by this modern day drama. Come with me as I paint a picture of a boisterous three year old, wearing a pixie cut and overalls on the kitchen floor, my legs crossed atop my baby cousin’s. We’re laughing and eating brownie mix directly out of a big glass bowl. I’m smirking at her with the most devilish grin that is all my own. She has curly, blond ringlets, a pink bow, a spatula in her mouth and brownie mix smeared down her chin. I love this baby girl deeply, for she would grow into the most glorious, courageous of women. She is the gypsy, a curious, starlit firefly, direct from the Gods and the underbelly. She is perfect in all her impossible glory.
She would travel the far ends of the earth and help people around the globe.
She would live in Africa and take care of the sick. She would call a submarine home, and the scientist in her would search for depth and meaning. She would honor truth, and walk to the beat of her own drum. She would go to Princeton, and Yale, becoming a Dr. of Medicine. But, to me she was so much more. She was a mystic, a guru, healer of the heart and mender of the soul. She was always the mender of my sometimes-damaged heart and filled my disheartened soul with more light, laughter, happiness and song than one could ever hope for.
Her hair a la grown up was long, curly, and golden, much like the ancient temptresses of Mythology. She never lost her luster, spark, or electric personality, even while drowning in psychosis, dark worlds and foreboding, mind oceans that were not her own. She was unable to find her way back home. We would watch Happy Feet, she would laugh and waddle-like a penguin for her own entertainment. She never judged my many messy attempts at becoming an adult; instead she celebrated my quirks and eccentricities. She was smart; actually she was brilliant, yet she never made me feel stupid. She made me feel bold. We would sing Karaoke at Christmas, loud and off – key, howling with every missed beat of a tune. She would visit, crawl into bed and tickle me, even though she knew I hated physical displays of emotion. She made me feel safe, proud, precious and loved. For her I was more important than any film, way better than any big time production. For me, she was all the beauty that is the stage and its majestic quality. She was grand, spectacular, much like the house lights, the beautiful, antique wooden chairs and ornate ceilings, theaters from a forgotten time. She was regal like La Scala in Milan and brighter than any red carpet dream in Hollywood.
And then, she wasn’t. When I close my eyes, tears stream silently down my face and snot runs from my nose. I shudder to think of her in the cold damp earth. A box she would never want to call home. I close my eyes tight and fear the black and the dark and the depths of her pain. I want to mend her. I want to make it better, but as I sob like that little girl with brownie mix smeared on her face I know that I can’t. So I sob a little more and imagine her beautiful face, spectacular self and realize my humanistic dreams seem silly. They pale in comparison to her life and how she touched mine. I imagine the impulsivity and courage it took to climb the rail, how scared she must have been. How out of her mind hopeless she must have felt. Then, I wonder was she scared at all? Maybe she felt release finally free to be the gypsy again to come and go without the hefty weight of living. The firefly eternal in flight, lighting up the sky with white and gold flames.
There had been too many hospital visits and failed drugs to mention. Hers was a life she would never have wanted. The bastard tricks of Bipolarity and my cursing at God bring little solace. I want to gather her, rock her in my arms keep her safe and warm. I want to kiss her cheek and tell her I love her and thank her for even one day in her company. I want to find the courage, fortitude and will to live my final act better. I want to make her proud. As brightly as her star shined in this world, so it shall in the next. For when I look up to the heavens and think of her I see the Aurora Borealis hues and colors bolder than ever imagined. There are far too many colors in her rainbow to fade out. Her spirit envelops me with goodness, truth, warmth, and endless golden curls and locks of love.
Life as I knew it was gone. I was left with a gorge in my heart. I was left with deep sorrow and sadness. Selfishly, I want her back. My brain tells me stop. I know better, I too have been cursed with the tortured, bipolar theatrics. I decide to halt my tears, and put on my most fabulous dress and high sparkly heels. I drown my sorrow in a rock song belting it out loud, way louder than I should. Fuck it, no one’s listening. I dance alone with thoughts of her dripping golden light all around me. I rejoice in freedom and abandon. Fireflies flicker for a brief, fleeting moment and then they are gone disappearing back into the night.
Something that precious must burn out, well before its time. Leaving us to bask in its wake, of wonder, beauty, love and twinkling light.
Curtain Falls. Intermission