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     April 1981. My brother and I are running around the backyard, searching for Easter eggs. It’s cold. Our movements are static, slightly-delayed in my mind—as though this is not a memory but an old slide-show film from the 70s. 
     He’s being nice to me for once, my brother.  I remember that. Just yesterday, he stole my Miss Piggy doll and wouldn’t give it back until I burst into tears.  Today, though, he’s a gem for all to see. I’ve got on his hand-me-down clothes, a red shirt that barely covers my round belly and elastic blue jeans.  He pulls me this way and that, a little roughly, but I understand that this is “nice” for my brother.  
     For all the effort, I haven’t found any eggs.  My brother has beaten me to all of them.  But Mother, who is sweet and has a pretty, soft voice, tells him to “help” his sister find one.  So he drags me over to a large rock in the yard and lo and behold, there is an egg tucked right beside it.  I am happy.
 
     Later.  In Kindergarten, I find only one egg at our class Easter egg hunt.  I am given a mercy award for having found the least amount in the class.  I tried to find more, kind of.  It’s exhausting running around for silly eggs.  I get to the predictable hiding spots too late.
     I learn a lesson about running after the other kids and doing what they are doing that day: if you run after what others have, you’ll end up panting–with nothing to show for it.  I try to follow the kids who seem lucky in egg-hunting, but it gets me nowhere.  For one thing, these kids are lucky; they find all the eggs.  Everyone else has lots of eggs, and I am the only one who doesn’t.  If only I could do it again, I think to myself 21 years later, I would be more intuitive, finding eggs—and my way—for myself.
     Of course, lessons are easily forgotten. By the time I’m in 5th grade, the new girl at a new school, I try desperately to find a different face in the mirror, one more like popular girls in my class.  I try to be like the other girls, thinking they are sure to help me find the light that seems to glow around them.  But other girls are quicker than me, and I don’t become part of the entourage of snippy white girls in a poor town. I am reduced to slinking back to my unhappy existence, having clearly not found any eggs. 
    

     These days. The only time I ever eat eggs is if my father scrambles them. I watch my father work, smiling, laughing easily. He cracks and breaks the eggs. This is no big deal for him. Eggs are eggs to him. For me, they symbolize everything I have ever wanted but have been unable reach: popularity, maturity, understanding, friendship, and love. All the woes of childhood and adulthood found in the most common of breakfast foods.
     Sitting at the table, listening to my father carry on, I hear my dad in another place and time telling me to let it go.  I <em>should</em> let all the old go. I’ve spent too long pondering the past.  I should enjoy my own life. Resolved for the moment, I can table this struggle for another day. I smile at my father.
     With a little salt, I think, those eggs will be awfully tasty.

My mother gave me pictures of her
and her son
both dead

We all die sooner or later

No one comes into the world
thinking she will suffer a lingering, painful death
or that he will die of a ruptured ulcer

We all die quickly or slowly

We all die of trivial things
which is not supposed to happen
or so our rebellious minds wail

She gave me pictures
of a dead woman and her dead son
They are still in the envelope
what’s left of a dead woman and her son

Where to bury the bodies
Where to put the ashes

I’m back. I didn’t mean to be gone so long…I went to the beach time forgot and in the whole town, apparently there is one internet connection and all the damn kids were on it. 

Notes.

I owned the sun, bitches. And then I got a cold and now the Universe owns me and I’m its bitch.

I am seriously sad about Farrah Fawcett’s passing. Her struggle reminds me of my aunt. I especially resent the tabloids for saying she wanted to die when she was undergoing painful treatment that only had a small chance of working.  I resent the family member (another aunt) who said she would never put the family through what my deceased aunt put them through…meaning it’s not worth putting the family through a difficult time if you have only the smallest possibility to live. Fuck that. As I recall, my family didn’t allow themselves to be put out by her fight. They were no where to be found. Oh, anger, be gone.

I fell on a hard slab of concrete. My mother thought I had broken my arm and was traumatized. She made me bend it to show her it was not broken for THREE days. She’s a good mommy. She also has poofy hair.

Friends. I am from the American South. “I” is pronouced “ah,” God is pronounce “Gawd,” but I have to draw the line at “far” being pronounced “for” or “fore.” In this case, my daddy has become red-necked-ified (“it cain’t be too for”) and it drove me nuts.

I was minding my own business, wiping my nose with my hand, coughing into large groups of people, when a lady leaned over to my mother and said I probably had the swine flu.  

I can’t be around smoke, okay? I have allergies. (bindo, for you, I will allow mourners to smoke at your eulogy slam as an act of good faith.)

You do not have “a piece” of a soda left over. You may have a swig, a swallow (“swaller”), or a little bit left but never “a piece.” My parents didn’t get the memo, and I figured I might have been being * a little* prissy/pissy, so I kept this tidbit to myself…until now. You need to know this.

My parents baby me when I’m sick and I appreciate them for it.

As soon as we left the airport parking garage, the sky opened up and spat out a m-f of a storm on top of me.

I give Bryan props for saving my ass again. I had to ask him to Fed-Ex my cell. I cannot live without it. He did read some inappropriate texts between me and an unnamed suitor.

The freckles. My God, the freckles.

OMG, I met a new man on one of my flights to the beach. He was very friendly and I think he’s my new boyfriend! It’s so exciting. He was going to Afghanistan for the next 9 months. I have decided in lieu of adopting a dog or an Asian baby, I am going to adopt a military man. Fuck Airmen. I’m into Army guys now. (Also, my mother and father were staring at my bf and me the whole time. Later my mother said she couldn’t help but notice he had extremely white teeth.)

I thought Michael Jackson was really strange and not in a flattering way, but I do feel for his family, friends, and fans.  My mother says there is really no comparision to Elvis and she wishes they’d stop saying that there is. Rumors are just rumors. If narcotics were involved, I can understand the draw. Highly addictive and unfortunately satisfying.

And that poor Billy Mays.

Iraq is fucked up no matter who writes about it. Trying to gain perspective about the War on Terror.  I read a memoir about a soldier’s experience in Iraq. He definitely does not agree with the war or why we went or how we’ve conducted ourselves. Or how the government has treated soldiers. Just so you know, the author isn’t necessarily right wing, but this is definitely not a love letter to George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld. Gives another perspective (and I do appreciate the message that NOT questioning the government is unpatriotic). Try Chasing Ghosts by Paul Rieckhoff. He has a website for veterans, if you’re interested (http://iava.org/index.php). 

I missed you.

Your forever Medicated Lady

I take a break from my guilt

A night of fun with my unrequited love

He’s unrequited but not really my love

I need him for much bigger things

Bob Seger’s voice haunts

Somewhere tonight someone’s thinking back to someone who got closer

 

I try hard to concentrate

this song is about me

this song is about my love life

this song is about my woe

 

Only I don’t believe myself

I believe in the tears I feel dripping from my chin

and the sound of my ugly cry noises

 

Someone’s not quite sad, only disbelieving

 

This is not about her

it is not about her

it’s not about her

She’s not being sung about

this song is not about her

except that it is

 

it’s a song about her absence

 

Somewhere tonight

any number of things are happening

but she isn’t

she’s not happening, she’s happened

Sobbing is never, ever attractive. It makes people uncomfortable.

Sobbing induces other people’s sobbing. It makes the one who started the sobbing feel a little guilty, but not really.

Sobbing is best suppressed after two minutes. One can continue to sob inwardly, but it’s best to be polite about it and shut up.

Sobbing causes mothers and fathers to cry, especially if it’s their daughter who’s sobbing the loudest or the only one who’s sobbing.

Sobbing is a sign of suffering. What can one do?

Sobbing as a memory induces sobbing in the here and now.

 

Sobbing is best left to the experts. Do not try this at home.

Consider it written in stone. The stone at the head of a non-descript grave at a non-descript cemetery on the outskirts of some field in the middle of nowhere. Here she lies.

This is how it will go. Tomorrow, there will be tears. Tomorrow, there will be a long, sad drive home and an even longer, sadder drive back to the place I live.

It’s hard to say how many people will be there. It’s summer, you know, and there will be no church service. I imagine only family and one or two friends will come.

The family will hug me. They will tell me how thankful they are that I went to see her when she was so ill and no one else was able to visit. Able. Inwardly, I will cringe at this word. Inwardly, I will feel hate and spite.

The family will tell me they love me after they’ve told me and each other what a big “help” I was, as if I’d gone to pick up their prescriptions downtown and not sat beside her for hours while she cried because she was in pain and no one else would come see her. They’ll say they don’t know what they would have done without me. Some of them will list all the reasons why they couldn’t come to visit her when it mattered. I will make a parallel list of all the reasons they should have come. My list will be longer and more substantial.

They did not kill her, but they did break her heart. My tears will be for her and for the injustice of it all. Their tears will force me to forgive them, to stifle the outrage I feel, because I, of all people, know guilt and grief.

I wanted her dead and now she is.

Neither of us will go quietly.

That was obvious from the first.

Her moans and denials and fight are only restrained by the liquid morphine that courses through her veins.

She will not go quietly.

 

On the way to see her.

On the way to see her for the last time.

I did not go quietly.

The sounds of the engine and the radio could not be heard over my shrieks and sobs.

 

When the end comes

neither of us will go quietly

even if we don’t make a sound.

The last words I’ll ever hear her speak are, “I’ve still got fight left in me.” Or maybe, “I don’t have no fight left in me.” I distinctly heard “fight left in me.”

I asked her how she was.  Dry: “I’m great.” Floated back into her morphine dreams or nightmares.

Later, when I was alone with her for a few moments, both of her hands in mine, I called her name. “Tywanua.” She opened her eyes. “Tywanua, I love you.” She was coherent enough to recognize me. “I love you, too.  I wish I could sit up a little more…but I’m just glad you’re here.”

 Atrocities of June 8, 2009

  • My aunt, who has terminal cancer, starts to rapidly decline as her body shuts down. There is concern she won’t make it through the night but the extra morphine improves her breathing and makes her more comfortable.
  • I see this otherworldly tumor on the side of her neck that makes me cringe and I’m glad my aunt is sleeping mostly. Not to be funny, but to give a visual: familiar with Coneheads on SNL? It’s like one of those heads is trying to grow out of the side of her neck. Ball your fists up, press them against the left side of your neck, and you can see how big that thing is. It’s like from a horror movie. Where the skin has been stretched to the limit and has cracked, she has bled. The whole top part has dark purple scabs and I’m sure some of that skin is black because it’s dead.
  • My family aren’t much of hand holders, but I know she likes to have her hand held so I try to model it for my family so that they can see the comfort it can give. Now, she’s hearing that she is loved and that’s all she (or any of us) has ever wanted.
  • My piece-of-the-most-unholiest-shit ex-uncle is a jealous, selfish coward. An obnoxious alcoholic, he keeps yelling at her, “you want something to eat, you want something eat?” I want to scream: She’s a little too busy with the business of breathing to eat. Besides, food will only prolong it now. Also, he apparently tries to have sex with her, while another aunt is in the same room, trying to sleep.
  • There’s too many people all around, wanting to desperately help her or those around her. The weariness of us all is heavy on the heart, and it’s the kind of heaviness that one can’t lose by going on a diet. It’s there for good.
  • I say goodbye to her and leave without a sob.
  • If not today,  June 9 or June 10, 2009 will be the day she dies. Maybe planning a death really is like planning a marriage. You concern yourself with the flowers and the weather.
  • Past and present tenses. She will die, but after that?  Will I say I had an aunt who died?  That tends to be the traditional form of reference. Or I have an aunt who died? Because is she still my aunt once she’s dead?  Will I ever be able to say I  lost an aunt or will it always be I am losing an aunt? I can’t go find her at the lost and found; she’s not a lost item or a lost person. Losing is active and implies infinity.

For her to feel

our family are vandals

carving indifference into her heart

Not here

 

She doesn’t use these exact words

Where are they?

The answer is exacting

hissing in the air around and between us

burning into the walls and branding our skin

every inch

words smoking

notherenotherenotherenotherenotherenotherenothere

…because at the end of the day, I connected two comments together and realized how horrifying disrespectful it is to one person and how it’s also sadly true for the other. My aunt lays in the hospital with major health issues, all of which are simple peasant girls surrounding Queen Cancer.  She needs a higher blood count and has an infection, both of which have to be treated before her next round of chemo. The disease and the chemo are aggressive, so we have to play the time game. Will she get well enough for her next round of chemo? Will she then be able to tolerate chemo?

Before I knew about the infection my aunt has, I said to poeticgrin: I would love to have the flu/sickness right now.  I meant it for completely selfish reasons. Get out of work.  Sleep. Doing nothing.

I want to be a little sick

When she’s a lot

When a little sick

Turns into intensive care units

To emergency units

To the time of death

To the morgue

To the funeral

To be buried.

Or burned.

SOB with me

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