probably everything revolves around grief and someone said it is just love with nowhere to go and I think they are fucking spot on
for Shelia 1/17/1950- 1/17/2018
I always ask the person I love that I want to know how his brain works.
Now he is used to me asking questions. A lot. I am like a 5-year-old with this habit.
But I do want to know things. I tell him that my brain is like a long set of hallways.
Long-bowling-alley-length hallways and some are lit up and some look like a hoarder resides there and some are empty, and some are stacked with words. Not images. Just words. He takes it in, and I’m sure inside of his brain he is thinking thinking thinking about how strange I am and how when he thinks he has seen the strangest parts of me I grow new strange parts.
Like they are always regenerating.
But I don’t know this to be true because I cannot read his mind. Sometimes I think I can read minds, but I probably can’t. Yet I feel like more than ever now I know things.
THE HALLWAY WITH JESUS IN IT
My grandmother Jean had the sixth sense as they say.
She was married to a Southern Baptist Minister.
She is another dead one.
It’s sad to know that she died after my mother and my mother is dead and does not know that her mother is dead unless there is a place we go where we magically know all the things.
They do not know they are both dead.
It hurts my stomach.
Do you believe in magic yes?
My grandma used to wake up and go to the calendar and circle dates. People would die on those dates. Or she would sit up straight in her little bed and say things. They had twin beds. I still find this strange. Family legend has it that she once sat straight up in her twin bed, and she said: my son my son is in an accident…
My uncle’s helicopter had crashed in Hawaii.
He survived, but man we were all real spooked by grandma after hearing that one.
I would study her face, especially when she was older, and try and see inside of her. What did she know? She had long silver hair that looked like young hair even though she was old. I used to think she kept secrets in her hair.
She would look at me and say I needed the lord and that is why I was sad.
I used to practice ESP to tell her that she had the lord and was still sad.
Other stuff would happen with her too. People talk. I always told her to never tell me anything. Nothing. I don’t want to know.
She didn’t like this part of her, I think.
Cuz, it didn’t feel like the lord.
Felt like something else.
But she acted like it was the lord.
She sure did. I wonder if she felt like it was the lord when her daughter died. When my mother accidentally died. She accidentally died. I like to say that because that is what happened. It was not supposed to happen.
THE HALLWAY WITH “AND MANY MORE” WRITTEN ON THE WALL
My mother died on Route 33 on her way to her birthday dinner with the love of her life. I know he was the love of her life because she told me 7000 times that he was. That my dad was sometimes difficult, but he got into her heart like a stuck thing and never left. And he was driving her to her birthday dinner.
They still held hands when they were in the car.
And just like that my family mythology changed, curved, split.
It sounds shitty to die on your birthday and I was in shock about this until I discovered lots of people die on their birthday.
They all died on their birthdays, and new research finds that the average death rate on people's birthdays is 6.7% higher than what you'd otherwise normally expect on that day.
I see other people searching on the internet for meaning too.
Just like me.
I am comforted by the other 6,680,000,000 search results on Google.
I search it sometimes. Just like how I search days since January 17, 2018, just to sit in my skin while my mouth hangs open. 1460 days.
I do find nice things like how in Judaism those who follow the teachings of the Talmud believe dying on your birthday is remarkable. Special even. Moses is said to have passed away on his 120th birthday. Chasidic masters in Judaism share that life is a mission god gives you that begins and ends on your birthday.
So, when you die on your birthday you have completed your earthly mission.
Like a circle.
Yeah, happy birthday. Still, it’s shit.
THE HALLWAY WHERE ALL THE OLD PHOTOGRAPHS ARE TAPED ON THE WALL
She was funny and her name was Shelia.
She had naturally curly hair and she liked to drive stick shift & the end of her finger was bitten off by a rabbit when she was younger, but you couldn’t tell because she always had a badass manicure.
& she was allergic to tangerines but loved them
& she had a really nice rack
& she loved god and possibly every human she ever encountered
& I was this close to getting her to get a tattoo with me
But she told me we would wait until her retirement in two months.
Let’s not wait.
Let’s not wait.
THE HALLWAY WITH BLACKBOARDS
Currently, I pile boxes and other such things at the opening of this hallway. Then I don’t have to think about it. But sometimes I move the stuff and look inside.
I am floating above her, like when people say “Physically, I am here but mentally I am in Tahiti”. Like that. Only I am physically floating around on the ceiling and looking down and mentally I am a little kid, sucking on my braids. One of her hands is out from the sheets, and she has on all of her shiny silver rings, and one of her nails is broken and I focus on that.
I stare at a defibrillator machine and memorize the words on buttons:
Pacer off monitor defib
Pacer off monitor defib
Pacer off monitor defib
Pacer off monitor deifb
I say it over and over in my head like a mantra.
I write it on a blackboard inside of my mind.
Sometimes even now I say it in my car.
I say it with a whisper.
THE HALLWAY I RARELY LOOK DOWN
I am sitting beside her in the trauma unit, and I am still hovering above the bed. There are other family members coming in and my cell phone rings and chirps a symphony and I throw it in a wheelchair near a desk and I float more.
I smell the blood, her blood as it comes from her ear and mouth, and I watch my father be wheeled in on a gurney to say goodbye to his wife of 46 years. Dad is flat on a gurney because he has a broken part of his neck and has multiple other injuries, but he is lucid. He is the weakest I have ever seen, and he is raw. I am in charge of him. I have to keep him alive.
THE HALLWAY OF ALL THE CHANCES I EVER HAD
And everything they say about the death-talk room in hospitals is true.
You know what is going to happen as soon as you enter it. They usher you in and you understand it as a threshold. As some doorway. Some other Narnia. And when you walk out of the room you will never be the same. Not never. Ever.
The young and serious doctor explained the severity of the automobile accident. The doctor said we needed to decide. They used that word decide as a code for something else because the only thing keeping my mother on this earth was machinery and they did not find brain activity. It must have been 60-90 seconds of watching the doctor’s mouth move before I understood the ways this played out.
My vibrant mother would be a vegetable. And my father pleaded with them to say there was some hope. He looked at me like he was a child. His eyes searching for sense.
A doctor spoke directly at me and said my mom would most likely go into cardiac arrest and not even get to be a vegetable. This was devastating. Like someone punched me like in a Matrix movie and time had slowed down and my body was stretched out like pixels across a page. Like I was a blur that stretched the entirety of my life. Like I could see her life too. All of it. Flashes are real.
I knew there was no hope. Everyone knew it. That January evening, we let the machines stop and we said goodbye. We were on another planet. In shock. We had just had Christmas with champagne and little paper hats, and we were all going to Paris soon and I had her birthday gift on the kitchen table with a big pink bow and all I wanted to know was exactly how many minutes until she would die.
I think I asked that question over and over.
I want to know the exact truth all the time.
Will she die in 2 minutes or 10?
Can she hear us?
No brain activity?
Could it take an hour?
What is happening right now?
Why is this happening?
The curtains were pulled around us. Hospital curtains go all the way around to make a small space for people to privately feel the whole weight of the world. My ex was so soft to me during this as he would just say the plain truth. He would look at me and tell me that he did not know. And I would look at him and see the sadness drip from his mouth. He loved her too. We grew up together with her. We were kids when we made this family. And she was our mom. I will always be thankful he was with me then.
I’m not even sure now how long it took.
It could have been 4 minutes or 2 hours.
It was the longest uncertain time of my life.
THE HALLWAY WHERE ALL OF THE PEOPLE ARE CRYING
And watching someone die is not like in the movies where they are so peaceful, and it is just like going to sleep. No. It is not always like this. I have parts of this blocked out, that is what the beautiful brain can do. It can save you and shield you for a while.
I know however that the howls of my father circled the long hallways of Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and that my mom’s blood was pouring so much that the kind nurse would clean my mother’s face and ears twice while we waited for her to die. And I did not know how to act. I could hardly look at her as she did not look like my mother. I was used to her beautiful face.
Not this science fake thing.
Not this body.
This scary swollen and wild thing.
Where was my mother?
I recall thinking I should wail too. Sob. Or throw myself over the bed.
Scream. Fall down. But I just calmly floated.
I remember thinking that something was wrong with me, but I know now that the floating was the beginning of my relationship with trauma.
Am I dissociating?
Am I fulfilling my destiny as the only child?
At this moment am I the queen of my family?
Am I the only one to save my father?
I will do this hard thing.
I did it.
I watched her die all beeps and blood and stillness.
I loved her till her heart stopped.
And I have loved her every single second since.
-Amy Turn Sharp