Seriously, this year has been so unpleasant, and not just because Donald Trump is running for President. With Nana going in the hospital, then the nursing home, dad’s health decline, everyone dying (Connie, Jay, Andrea, Joey), my depression coming out to play, the anemia rearing its ugly head, etc., it’s just been quite yucky.1 But it’s had decent moments. I almost had a paid article on xoJane, which encouraged me to submit more pitches & to start entering my poetry in literary magazines. That hasn’t resulted in any publications yet, but I just started. Besides, I know that most writers get a lot of rejections before they get their first acceptance. My time will come.  I’m sorry I haven’t been writing more. I just feel like shit a lot of the time lately. And it’s hard to encourage yourself to talk about how you feel like shit when you’re feeling that way. I also have started feeling like I’m too self-centered and don’t really give enough attention to the people I care about. I will try to do better.  Sometimes the most childish word is the best. ↩

Ready for This Year to Be Over

I don’t know why I needed to know her name, but it didn’t find long to discover it. A few details and suddenly this woman who had been dehumanized by someone who was once her friend had her name and history restored to her. She was whole again. I know a fake name was likely meant to “protect” the privacy of her family, but it just seemed like a way to further diminish her.  “Leah” deserved more respect than Amanda Lauren gave her. She was more than her disease and she deserves to be remembered for more than her mental illness. She was a person. She was also a daughter, sister, friend, writer, actress, yoga instructor, and graduate of Tisch at NYU. She was loved. This is how we should remember her.  In the obituary, her family asked that donations be made to the Stella Adler Studio of Acting at NYU-Tisch. If you want to do so and can afford to do so, then I think that would be an awesome way to remember this young woman. 

How We Remember 

On Saturday morning, we got a call that my Uncle Steve, Granddaddy’s last living sibling, had died. He had gone to the hospital with pneumonia last week and was transferred from the hospital to hospice on Thursday. His son, Grady, was driving from St. Louis to see him when Steve died. He was 91.1 I didn’t really talk on here about how much I loved Uncle Steve or how his lively spirit & weird sense of humor impacted my life. But it did, as it also impacts yours. Growing up, any time there was some weird or funny thing that happened, my mom would say that we needed to tell Uncle Steve. She told me his personality and jokes had shaped hers. Since my sense of humor became a lot like hers, I can say that it’s a lot like his as well. Anytime you laugh or smile at something funny or weird that I’ve said, you’ve been appreciating the world as my uncle would have seen it. Sort of.2 And now that he’s gone, any entertainment that my words or actions provide will honor his memory.  When people die, we can’t always say specifically how they touched our lives. Steve probably touched my life in ways that I don’t even know, but I do know how he changed me in this one way. And I will be forever grateful for that. And I take great comfort knowing that his unique spark of joy and humor will never die.   The obituary mentions 4 brothers and 4 sisters, but it is wrong. There were 8 kids in all: 3 girls, 5 boys. The first two girls and two boys were half-siblings. My great-grandmother remarried after her first husband died. She then had her last daughter, my grandfather, Uncle Grady—he died in WWII, and Steve. Her younger daughter from the first marriage died right before Granddaddy was born. If you’re worried about all of the personal details that I have shared, don’t be. Most of this information can be found on genealogy websites & Facebook, as well as military archives. You could probably even find some with Google by searching using an image of him. ↩We did differ on a lot of personal beliefs. ↩

A Generation’s End

Sunday was the twentieth “anniversary” since Granddaddy died. Twenty years. It’s almost twice as long as the time I spent with him.  But I still miss him.  I always will.  He was the better grandfather even before the emotional abuse (and before I started coming to terms with the other abuses) from Dadada. When we didn’t live with Dadada, Granddaddy was still my favorite. He was a genuinely good person and I think the world is a better place because of his goodness.12 So, of course, I will always miss him.  And I will dread the week between his death and birthday for a long time to come. I worry about Nana because she gets so depressed this week every year. I worry about Aunt Barbara because she hasn’t really been herself3 since he died. I worry about Eric because, even though we never talked about it, he must still miss him.4 And I worry about my mom because she was so close with him and she was there when he died. I think she focused so much on getting the rest of us through his death that she never gave herself the opportunity to grieve properly. I worry because I never know how sad I will feel this week.  But part of life means living even when you’re sad or remembering those you’ve lost, so that’s what I will do.  He was a good enough person for a funeral home full of people to brave the threat of an ice storm for his visitation and to fill the chapel for a standing room only funeral. This isn’t just hero-worship. This is me recognizing that he made an indelible mark on the lives of others with his friendship. ↩Dadada, on the other hand, was jealous we were going to Guntersville for Granddaddy’s funeral. He was in the hospital with his congestive heart failure, diabetes, & emphysema—and sneaking cigarettes while he was there. ↩Or she hasn’t been who she was before his death. ↩He had longer with him. ↩

Twenty Years, Emerald Tears