The Mapril Curse

For years, the end of March and the beginning of April have always been rather catastrophic times for me.  Since before I can really remember, this has been a terrible time of year.  As I grew older, I started to notice certain patterns.

Some of the worst things that happened in my life have always happened during this time of year.

As a child, I recall my father was often hospitalized at this time. For a long time, I didn’t understand what my father was so sick with that he’d be gone in the hospital for weeks at a time. It scared me. I was scared he’d never come back. That he would die there.

Our worst fights happened at this time. It didn’t help that my final progress report for the year would come in.

Standardized tests always rattled my nerves. I knew that these tests didn’t affect my grades. It was just implied that these tests prove how smart a person was. I knew a bad score would label me an idiot. The only thing I had going for me, intelligence, would be wiped off the slate. I’d be nothing, and regarded as more of a child than I was already treated.

Then there was Easter break. For me, there was always something disturbing and disappointing about Easter. First, Easter is not exactly a pleasant holiday in the Christian religion. Yeah, I know, it is about celebrating the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

But, before that was good Friday. The day that Jesus died on the cross, after a gruesome and vividly detailed crucifixion. I don’t even know how the church justifies recounting this horrific story to children.

I know this one thing. Because of an exercise we did in Sunday School, peppermints are now revolting. I will spare you.

The closest friend I’ve ever had betrayed me in late March. She told my parents about a shoplifting incident that happened in January, complete with a fine that I was trying to pay off. She sabotaged my friendships with everyone else. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she had made it a very public falling out. She humiliated me.

And my father went off the deep end. No door on my room. Indefinitely grounded. No phone. No computer. No pager. No one in. And for a week, there was no school, and limited freedom within the house.

My ex Beck used my trip to Florida as time to gather support from our friends to backstab me, and destroy life as I knew it. April 1st, he dumped me. April 2nd, he moved his new girlfriend in.

April 8th, my ex Avi and I started dating. The following year, April 1st, we took what was a regrettable step into a year long lease together. A contract that legally obligated is to live together, in a small one bedroom apartment, in the worst of conflicts.

A year after that? We lost the apartment. We went flat broke and had to move into my house, which was then a complete shit shack. We ran a power cord over and lived in one room. Electricity in one room, and still living out of boxes and bags.

In late March, almost a year later, he made the admission that he cheated on me a year and a half ago. It consumed me so much that I was a woman possessed. It was all I could think about. I poured over the details. The emotion of anger, betrayal, guilt, and resentment was so much that it felt like it bled from every pore.

And on April 9th, three years after that first date, I decided that I wanted out. But, I was trapped.

Late March, before my wedding, I was tormented by my family. “You gained 5lbs!”

“Of course. I’m pregnant, right?”

“We can’t afford more alterations and it’s too late! We spent so much money on this, and you have to go and get knocked up! How irresponsible can you possibly be?”

After I had my son, this is the point in time where I started to show aggression and become violent. I was scared of myself. It was at this point that I knew I needed mental help.

A year after that, I started to have significant problems at my job. Even the thought of going there was agonizing.

Last year? The stress of putting together a children’s musical sent me flying into the ER with severe migraines. After that, I had a serious hypomanic episode. The first serious one I can remember.

And this year? Depression. Serious depression and self-harm. Marital issues. A lawsuit. A whole mishmash of events and looming threats that heap into a twitching shadow of depression and dreadful anxiety.

I have been reading references to research that has linked the turn of the season with mental health issues. March has the highest admissions into hospitals for those with mental illness. Different researchers have drawn different conclusions.

Today, I cracked it.

Today was my Pappap’s birthday when he was among the living. If he were with us today, we’d be celebrating his 96th birthday.

He has long since passed, almost 16 years ago. I was still young. He had been fighting a losing battle against prostate cancer for ten years. I was lucky to have had him in my life at all. When he was diagnosed, they only gave him a year.

My father was in and out of the VA hospital a lot when I was a child. My Pappap really stood up to be my father figure. And was he!

He was an amazing man. As a strapping young man, he and his brothers helped my church dig out their undercroft, by hand. It was the 40’s and wartime. Many men were called out to duty. My Pappap couldn’t go, on account of his severe hearing loss. It was mostly a result of working on the railroad. So, he, and other remaining parishioners took their shovels, and created a place where they could meet after mass.

He was always a man you could ask for help. He’d deny no one. And he was a jack of all trades. Plumbing, heating, electrical, building, anything. And if he didn’t know how to do it, he’d figure it out.

He had so many friends. Everyone who had ever spent any time with him was deeply touched by him. He treated everyone like family, and he treated his family like gold.

In times of need, he had offered everything he could to his extended family. Various family members had lived with him throughout his life. He was a faithful and dedicated man. My grandmother was his wife for fifty years before his passing.

He visited my mother every morning at 10AM for coffee after his morning walk. He knew that she needed him most. She was mostly alone with a severely autistic son and a deeply troubled husband, scarred by the war.

He came to every one of my school functions. I remember riding in the back of his station wagon. The only thing that ever made him angry were bad drivers. He always gave me $2 bills for my good report cards, and bragged to everyone about how smart and beautiful his granddaughter was.

I remember the first time I got a card from him with a $2 bill in it. He liked to tease people, so I thought it was fake. I got really mad at him. And he showed me his whole collection of $2 bills. And then he joked that I was a “brat kid” for disbelieving him.

I’d go to church every week, just to see him. He was an usher, and took collection. My Pappap was a devout Episcopalian, and so was I. He threw me a party when I reached my First Holy Communion.

We were very poor growing up. He often volunteered at charity events. The church had a flea market, and I fell in love with this little purple bunny. I was four, and the bunny warmed my heart. She made me happy and safe. He bought it for me, even after my mother lambasted me for begging for the bunny, as if I was trying to embarrass her in front of the other parishioners.

I named her Furry. Some kids had imaginary friends. I had her. She was imaginary in some ways. We talked. She always made me feel better. We shared a bed, and talked late into the night. I was less scared of life with her.

She still exists, and lives on shelf in my bedroom. She has been well loved, with patches of fur missing, dingy ears, paint chipped eyes, and a few obvious seams where she was sewn. Most of the time, I forget she’s there. She’s a relic, the only thing that survived my childhood. But, sometimes, I know she’s watching over me.

I remember the year that followed my Pappap’s death. We celebrated my uncle’s birthday, but it was somber. They shared a party every year. And he wasn’t there anymore.

Really, nothing was the same. Christmas. My birthday. Anytime I got a report card. My mother had removed the dining room table entirely. That’s the same dining room table in my house now. The same one I sit with during meals with my family. The very same that my friends gather around.

And, I never made the connection. I have only started considering a connection between a childhood amnesia and his passing. I never realized that it could have such a profound subconscious affect on my life as an adult.

I miss him. And most of all, I believe I mourn the time we missed most. I mourn the loss of the role in my life he could have taken.

When I joined the showband, I knew he’d be thrilled. His own granddaughter, so talented in music that she would be invited to travel the country each year to compete. I knew he’d be even more proud when I joined choir. All of those years watching me sing in church paid off in solos and special choir assignments.

When I graduated high school, I wondered if he’d be proud of me. I graduated with honors. The choir needed me and a friend so badly at graduation that we actually had to run back and forth from the stage to the other stage!

What would he think of my husband? I know he’d adore my son. My son loves cars and trains, just like him. They’d play with his model train sets all day.

If I ever do have a daughter, she’d be the light of his life. He cherished his girls most of all. He had always told me that girls were God’s gift to the world, and children were life’s best blessing.

He’d just be tickled about my job. He always believed in public service, and thought the people who did it were saints in disguise as ordinary people. Yes, he was a little bigoted, so he might have made a remark or two about it being in a city neighborhood. But, anyone in need – it didn’t matter who they were. He always believed that people were people. No less, no more.

He’d make a joke about me getting a report card. And I’d tell him that I do, every year in May. And he’d probably still slip me a card with some odd currency in there. A JFK silver half dollar. Oh god, a couple of Saqaguia’s! How he would have been so tickled by that!

He played piano. My parents both sing. I know where the talent came from.

Would he have said anything about the bipolar disorder? Maybe one thing. “You were always sensitive and moody. It’s a sign that you’re human.” That would have been that. I am who I am, and that’s more than special to him.

If he were alive, I’d join him and my mother for coffee in the morning, even if I don’t drink coffee. I know he’d pick up my prescriptions if I asked. He might poke fun and call them “crazy meds”. Just for a giggle.

He was the light in my chaotic childhood. He was the rock in my life. He was the father my dad could not be at the time. I was lucky to have my Pappap at all.

I do hope he rests peacefully and happily. And I hope he knows, that even after all of these years, and although I was young, I still remember him and everything he was to me.

The Cypress Tree

On an island called Chios lived the Greek God Apollo, his beloved Cyparissus, and a stag, adored by all of the inhabitants. Especially by Cyparissus. Cyparissus would care for the stag, adorn his horns with garlands, and they’d ride and gallop across the island in merriment.

One hot day, Cyparissus was hunting in the woods. From afar, Cyparissus saw an animal. Cyparissus took aim with bow and arrow and fired a fatal shot. When Cyparissus approached, the animal was recognized as the beloved stag.

In agonizing mourning, Cyparissus prayed to Apollo that he be permitted to be grief-stricken for eternity. Reluctantly, Apollo agreed, and turned his friend into the cyprus tree, to preside over the mourning of others.

I approach the cyprus in the distance. I can see it, wide branches over the swelling tides. It stands alone, and survey the landscape. I am alone in this endless field, approaching the cliffside. The others may not join me immediately. Because, they won’t let themselves see it in the distance.

What does it all mean?

My grandmother had a stroke on Christmas. She has not been well enough to care for herself for quite awhile. The details have become clearer as the cypress tree was coming into focus. She has not been well for much longer than many of us realized. It was a very closely guarded secret.

It was not for the protection of others, but the denial of one. Her caretaker. When the day comes, and she is gone, her caretaker will have no one left. In a way, she was protecting herself from psychic harm.

My grandmother went back into the hospital on Saturday, the 18th. The doctors determined she has pneumonia and congestive heart failure. On Sunday, the 19th, she had a seizure. Currently, she is in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. She’s conscious and stable. But, her doctor, who has been treating her for years, had deemed the situation to be grim.

They say she’s turned around today. But, I am not hopeful. Her brain is still hemorrhaging, slowly, but continuously. She has developed aphasia now, although she is aware of her surroundings. But, she is mostly immobile. Congestive heart failure doesn’t just go away. Her body is ailing and her brain is failing. She is shutting down, bit by bit.

And, I walk slowing, a lone soul in my procession toward the cypress tree. Each step feels like the terrain grows larger. I am alone in my acceptance that her days are sadly numbered. I am terribly alone in my grievance, crossing those days off of my calendar. And I am seemingly completely alone in the anxiety of the wait.

I know why. No one is ever ready to lose their mother.

But, I ask, what quality of life does she have? Immobilized, unable to care for her basic needs, and losing more of her brain function with each episode. How happy can she be in that state? Is it fair that many cling to her life so much that they fail to see any of this?

I see it. I mourn her life in such a state. I am troubled by her slow disintegration. And, I clutch Tallulah (my Blackberry), in grave anxiety, awaiting that call. I have gone as far as allowing my phone to remain on ring while I am at work. As far as I am concerned, I am on death watch.

I worry. My grandmother is the last bit of glue that binds this family together. Her children refrain from bickering, for her sake. Her grandchildren are only vaguely aware of each other. And most of the rest are scattering to the four corners.

I worry. About my family – about my mother. She is the glue that binds her family and the very mechanism that keeps it functioning. The woman is much more fragile than can be perceived by her stoic exterior alone. If she falls apart, her family will fall. They depend on her.

And I know. It will fall on me. I will have to find the strength to care for five people, when I am hardly capable for caring for myself.

Can I?

Wished For “The Moment”

Today, I learned about a tragedy that occurred in the life of a woman who had a profound impact on T.D.’s growth and development. She helped our family so much, and even helped me, though she was not my therapist. She was T.D.’s Developmental Therapist from Early Intervention and came into our home and lives every week for nearly a year. And she is one of the few absolutely saintly people I can say that I know.

Dev fell in love with a man three years ago that was in Medical School. His reserve unit was called out, so he had to drop out of school in his 3rd year. He did a tour of Iraq jumping out of a rescue chopper as a medic.

When he came home, the PTSD was crippling and he couldn’t return to his life. The VA alleged he didn’t finish his tour, so he wasn’t entitled to benefits. Dev loved this man with all of her heart and soul. But, he was living in extreme poverty without access to adequate psychiatric services.

The PTSD was too much. He took his life.

I have been a friend to several people who have taken their lives. In every case, they did not have access to adequate psychiatric care.

I have been on both sides of this. I know what it’s like to be overtaken by an illness. The pit is dark and dangerous when you’re dodging the pendulum. And, I also know what it’s like to feel the profound loss and sadness of a suicide survivor.

But, there’s a unique view that a person has from standing on both sides of that fence. From the one with the handful of pills to the other in a casket.

I feel an overwhelming empathy for the victim. I always wish that they could’ve had an extra few minutes to get to The Moment. The Moment has always come at, what seemed to be, excellent timing. It was always a millisecond of mental clarity that produced a phrase or a feeling that would stop me. If they could have hung on, just one more minute…

The loss is unspeakable. Death before due time is always tragic. But, it’s never more tragic than when it’s at one’s own hand. Friends and family are choked with profound emotion they never knew they had. And who do they blame? There is no definitive perpetrator in a suicide.

I’m not sure that a person can truly know their way around suicide at all. It’s confounding because it violates all self-preservational instincts. There are no distinct causes and effects of suicide. Why does one person only attempt a suicide and another succeeds?

In all fairness, I should probably be dead. I won’t go into all of the gory details of every attempt. This is a situation I call the Heath Ledger Paradox. My last attempt, over a year ago, involved an attempted overdose and intentional drug interactions. How is it that Heath Ledger can do it by accident and other’s can’t manage to do it on purpose?

The Moment is the only thing I can even think of.

My heart weeps and heaves at the subject of suicide. I mourn with the mothers over their children and the wives of deceased husbands. I am a mother and a wife; there is nothing more precious in the universe than my family. People are not made of materials. They cannot be manufactured and replaced.

For everyone out there that might feel suicidal – hang on!!! There is help. You won’t feel this way forever. Call someone. Call anyone. If you don’t feel like you can, call a suicide hotline. They are there to help. The link provided lists national and state hotlines in the US. Don’t wait.

For suicide survivors – I cannot even pretend to imagine what it would be to lose a loved one in that way. I know the way I feel about my loved ones. I would be devastated. I can only say that I deeply sympathize with you.

And with all of the love in my heart for my fellow bloggers, let us be honest with each other, in the very least. You are not alone. You don’t have to be in that dark place alone. We are here as a community to help. If anyone feels suicidal, speak up. I promise to do the same.

A Visit From a Fairy

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!

At first, it hardly woke me. It’s usually pretty difficult to rouse me from sleep, unless it’s an usual, or possibly threatening noise. It was both. Someone was banging on my door entirely too early for me to be up on a Sunday morning.

I have to preface this. I don’t live in a great neighborhood. It’s not too bad because it’s not very violent. We have a lot of drugs, delinquent teens, vandalism, homelessness, and petty theft. And crackheads.

When someone comes banging on my door without calling, I automatically assume I don’t want to answer it. Really, I was too tired to care.

BANG, BANG, BANG!

Ugh. It was enough to wake C.S., who was less pleased than I was. He went to investigate. I laid there awhile longer and heard a male talking. I huffed and got out of bed. Oh well, there went my hope of sleep.

I expected to find C.S. talking with the person he greeted at the door. Instead, I ran into him in the kitchen. I asked, “Who was it?” He rolled his eyes and said, “Some crazy looking blonde haired woman. Probably a crackhead. She’s outside talking to your dad in the back.” (Figures. My dad is the only person whose voice could carry through thick wooden, heavily insulated walls. Well, except mine.)

I looked out the window and knew the woman. I corrected C.S. and said, “That’s Nina!” Nina is our local animal rights activist. She’s infamous for taking in all manner of animals. She practically runs a foster home out of her house!

Chris said eagerly, “Poke your head down the window and yell out to them!”

“I’ll go down after I use the restroom and grab a smoke. You yell out.” (I’m not often pleasant in the morning.)

I was about to open the door to go down into the backyard when there was a knock at the side door. I opened the door and saw Nina’s face through the storm door. When I opened the storm door, I was shocked!

There Nina stood with a tiny calico – tabby mix kitten in her arms.

“C.S., come here!”

Nina had heard the news about Zen. In the same week, a cat had abandoned this kitten on Nina’s doorstep. Nina said, “I don’t have any more room. The winter’s coming and I’m afraid she’ll die.” We couldn’t refuse. She’s tiny, helpless, without her mother, and without a home.

I held her in my arms and she cried. But when C.S. held her and spoke, she went silent. She stared into his eyes like he was God. They were silent for a moment and he said, “Her name is Lexis. Wait, Alexis.” She chose her human.

We called it our visit from the Kitten Fairy.

The pain of losing Zen is still there. I was his human and he was my kitten. Alexis and I will probably not have the same kind of relationship.

But, I feel a little better. Out of that senseless tragedy, I was able to give this beautiful baby, who was sentenced to death, a loving home.

Zylexus – born 8/16/2011

Not a Five Star Day

I mentioned to Brandon in the comment section of RIP Zen 9-12-2011 about going through the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grieving.

1. Denial and Isolation
I didn’t immediately go to this one.  My immediate response was this deep sense of loss, with hysterical crying.  But, I did come back to this one later.

Yesterday, I swore I heard meowing in the house.  I swore I saw his shadows in the house.  Today, I looked to where his food bowl was.  I tried to make sure that he wasn’t running past me when I was leaving for work and coming back home.  I swear I saw him laying on my bed.  I keep thinking I’m going to run into him on the bathroom and see him spawled out on the bath mat.

2. Anger
I was so infuriated that someone would do this to a kitten.  To my kitten.  I was enraged that this person could walk free and suffer no consequence.  I wanted vengence.  “If I ever find out who did this, I will take a baseball bat to their knees.  They’ll have the rest of their life to think about it while they’re in a wheelchair,” I said in a IRL Facebook post.

3. Bargaining
During the original hysteria, I went to this one.  “I was going to call him in before bed.  Why didn’t I call him in?  If I would’ve called him in…” and “Maybe if I would’ve been a little more proactive.  Maybe if they had seen he was wearing a tag, they wouldn’t have hurt him.”  and  “I knew I shouldn’t have let him go out at night.  I knew it wasn’t safe.”

4. Depression
Don’t get concerned.  I am not actually depressed.  I know what bipolar depression is all too well.  This is bereavement.  I was devestated yesterday. Today, I’m sad, but this isn’t an episode.  It’s kind of ohnoui – a French term for just feeling generally down.

5. Acceptance
I find ways to accept it.  I’ve told myself, “Nothing I can say or do will ever bring him back”.  Yesterday, I did those graphics.  As it stands, one of those graphics is my current IRL FB profile picture.  Today, I made a beautiful yarn bracelet, with his tag on it.  Tomorrow, I intend to trek out to my backyard and find a stone that would be suitable to carve as a grave marker.

I keep cycling through these.  It makes it a little hard to concentrate.  I’m not focusing and in some instances, I don’t really have anything constructive to say.  So, if I’m not replying to your recent posts, don’t take it personally.  I just don’t have a lot to give right now.
I leave you with this.

RIP Zen 9-12-2011

This will be updated throughout the day as I become a little more coherent.

Last night, someone in my neighborhood brutally murdered my kitten, Zen. They did so with a baseball bat. Today, my kitten was found on the sidewalk behind my house.


Update: 2:45PM EST
I couldn’t bring myself to go out there. I didn’t want to remember his corpse. I wanted to remember his beautiful olive, shining eyes and his black little nose. My dad offered. He worked Graves’ Registration in Vietnam. Death is something he can handle.

Before he could do it, Zen’s body was found by a loving neighbor who buried him. She gave him a final resting place in her own yard. I plan on carving a stone to mark it.


He was the sweetest, most social kitten in the world. He never tried to hurt anyone, and never even hissed at anyone. He was my baby and my best friend. He cuddled with me at night. When I would cry, he would retract his claws and paw my face to wipe the tears away. He always knew when there was something wrong, and he would do anything in the world to make it better. I loved him like family.

Today, all I have of him are his belongings and my memories. And all of the tears I’ve cried for him.

He was a baby, only 7 months old. He was murdered on his 7 month birthday. What kind of cruel, sick, vile, evil, fucking piece of shit monster would do that to the sweetest baby kitten? They deliberately did it! No one just carries a baseball bat! They killed my little kitty in cold blood!

I am so torn up about this. I loved him. I really did. And I have no idea how I can possibly honor a creature who had such a short existence in my life but made such a profound impact. How do I avenge him? How could I ever make this right?

I loved him. I loved him with my whole heart. And I miss him so much. I will never forget him.