Posts in Death
Oh shit

I almost got killed this morning. And no, I didn't see a movie of my life in front of my inner eye. I yelled “Oh shit!”

I was riding home at dawn from the gym. It’s typically a 12-minute bike ride with slow traffic and never more than eight cars at any given light. Is it a difficult intersection? No. An unusual one? Yes. But manageable. Manageable. While the bike lane continues straight, a right turn lane is carved out of the sidewalk so that any car turning right crosses my two-wheeler lane to do so. I have biked this part a hundred times and I shift into high alert right about this time every morning.

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Ever since my mother died, and later, my father, I have had a hard time looking at family photos. It hurts too much. It hurts to remember what was lost, but I think the truth is, it hurts more to remember I was loved. Because in my family, love was a patchwork of mental illness, violence, and abuse. Love felt unsafe, love meant to harm.

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Not Sorry

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. I forgot about it. I mean, I know he died in August. But early this month I couldn’t put finger on the date. Facebook reminded me. I looked at my post from a year ago and there were 78 comments. I flew through them, all with the same theme: “So sorry for your loss.” I think I feel more strongly about those statements a year later than I did that day.

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My hope was to give you a great life; free of disfunction, full of hope. I pictured us standing on beautiful oak hard-wood floors playing with Legos on a Sunday morning. Holding your tiny hand while we had adventures at the local parks, made new friends, and adopted our first puppy. I imagined a tire-swing in the back-yard where I would watch you play while I washed dishes, and planned our healthy meals for the week. I believed that one day we would purchase your school supplies together, and I would rush home from work elated to hear about your first day of school.

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Not-Suicide Note

The first time I remember thinking about killing myself I was eight years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just moved to a new house the year before and I was in a new school. At the old school I had felt like, a star really, teachers liked me, they thought I was going places, They would give me little gifts and things, you know, look out for me. They were talking like I would be a scientist, or like, a mathematician or something. They knew I had problems, but even the problems it was like they were a sign that I was some kind of genius. They talked like maybe school was too easy for me or I was bored or something but I wasn’t bored. I liked school, I was into it, I wanted to succeed, maybe I had some problems with my attention span or whatever but for the most part, I was good.

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The Road to the Deepest Truths

Yesterday would have been my father’s seventy-first birthday.
If he were still alive, he might have had a bowl of vanilla ice cream to celebrate. Or maybe he would have gone for a drive to see the ocean, to breath in the salty air, to feel the wind on his face. I can’t say for sure because in the years following my mother’s death, he was sad and heart-sick and drinking too much. For ten long years, my father was suffering.

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I have breast cancer that has metastasized in my lungs. At her recent visit, my hospice nurse said that my lungs sounded like two dry sponges rubbing together. I am on oxygen all day every day. With the effort it takes me to walk a few feet, I feel as if I’ve run a marathon. I’m tired. Some days I just sleep. 

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DeathJulie DukeComment