Daddy

Yesterday

There are too many weird things
No light in the hall tonight when I went to bed.
no need for one.
The stained sheets
Tucker all alone in the basement
Does it smell like death down there or is that in my head?
I will never give dad that tie for Christmas.
His body is lying naked in a fridge somewhere.
No wedding ring, no necklace, no soul inside
He’s gone
And today is Friday
And tomorrow is Saturday
And a week from now
it will be Friday again
And he will still be gone
& I will still be here
living

One week

I miss him so much
Sometimes so much
that I forget
to miss him

A Conversation
Me: You had no money
almost no ability to move
You were the poorest person I knew
Dad: No I wasn’t; I had you

Two weeks

I hadn’t cried in a few days
not since the funeral
really.
I cried today
nothing torrential
But I think I was numb
for a while
Being sick and dealing with the practicalities of the funeral,
I had no space in me
to mourn you
Now my cold is retreating
and my heart is remembering
that you are gone.
People talk about a hole in the heart
I don’t feel that so much.
It’s more like a gnawing
like there is a set of incisors
latched onto my right ventricle
and they won’t let go
Sometimes, I see your old t-shirt in my closet
and the jaws clamp down hard
and steamy blood pools in my chest cavity
I don’t know what to do then
do I wallow in it? pick up your t-shirt, smell it, maybe even put it on?
do I move on and close the closet?
do I throw your shirt away?
no, not that.
Right now, I can’t look at things that remind me of you
It hurts too much to be reminded of you
…as if I could forget

When I talk about you now,
I’m supposed to add “-ed”
I don’t want to
I don’t want you to be gone.

Three weeks

Remember when I was little
and you were 10 feet tall?
(well, actually 6’3”)
Remember how you carried me on your shoulders?
How tall I felt!

I thought we would have more time.

You died on a Thursday morning
I cried thinking about your eventual demise the night before
Did it hurt?
Did you know it was coming?
It was so hard for you to talk at the end.
Did you have last words?
Did you have a last fight?

Remember holding George Brunner’s baby in the backyard last summer?
You loved babies so much
and we laid her in your lap in the wheelchair and you looked…content and nervous
You worried about dropping her
Your body had betrayed you in every way possible.
I’m glad you got to hold a baby one last time
Even if you won’t ever get to hold mine.

What’s it like with Jesus?
Are you bored?
Do you get to watch the Bears and the Cubs?
Do you watch me?

I want more hugs, daddy.
And tell me why I call you daddy now?
Three and a half weeks ago, when you were alive,
I never called you daddy.
It was either “Dad!” or “Daaaaad” or “Father”
(the last always accompanied by an eye roll)

I think the last thing I ever said to you
was “I love you”
I am glad for that.

How were your last three weeks, daddy?
Did you miss me?
Were you holding out while I was there?
Did you give up when I left?
Did you let go when I left?
I’m glad you’re not hurting anymore
I’m mad you didn’t try harder.
I’m selfish that way.
Who will I call when my car makes a funny noise?
Who will mediate fights when mom and I go at it?
Who will walk me down the aisle?

At least we had our slow dance at Susie’s wedding
Did you know then that you were months away
from never walking again?
I think you did
because you hated to dance
From the moment you asked me
until we sat down again,
I will remember your tall frame holding mine then
just as vividly
as I will remember
holding your drained frame
in the bed on September 7
Your cold greasy forehead against my lips
Your clenched hands wrapped in mine
Your white toes poking out from the sheet
I said goodbye to your body then
I’m not planning on saying goodbye to your soul

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Un comfortable

This is a public service announcement…and also a poem. 

He makes you uncomfortable
doesn’t he?
When he drools
and shakes
When he says something
with slurred speech
and he looks at you
expecting you to understand
So you nod and smile
That makes you uncomfortable
doesn’t it?

Well, when that happens, it makes him uncomfortable too
Oh I don’t mean the drooling and the shaking and the slurred speech
After 3 years, he is used to that
That’s his new normal.
What bothers him
is that it bothers you

He’s a smart man
He notices the difference
between a “nod and smile” of understanding
and
a “nod and smile” that says
“I have no effing clue what you said but I can’t be bothered to actually try to understand you.”
He notices the faces
of disgust you make when his drool drizzles
through his beard and pools in a wet stain on his shirt
He notices how people talk extra
slow and extra
loud and extra
peppy to him.
He notices how he eats
and how it draws attention;
he refuses to eat in public anymore.

He notices
and it makes him uncomfortable too
So, excuse me if I don’t give one flying fart how uncomfortable he makes you.
Being him makes him uncomfortable enough as it is.

Attention everybody
Start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
Cuz my dad’s here
Get used to it.

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What do you do?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a poem for my Aunt Patti, who was fighting back at stage four metastasized cancer with kale and the sheer force of her indomitable will. Yesterday, at 4:05 pm, cancer won and we all lost. That poem a few weeks ago, I wrote for her and this poem I wrote today is for all of us who are left behind. 

There are no words
There are no words
What do you do
when her pain is over?
Are you relieved?
Are you devastated?

Probably
you are both
like me

Torn between love and despair
Between missing the sound of her voice
and knowing that now
for the first time
she can probably hear yours

Torn between
missing her
and loving her
between selfishness and selflessness

What do you do
when the earthquake hits?
What do you do when
the tectonic plate evaporates?

What do you do when she is gone?

What do you do?

I don’t know
yet
It’s only been a day
I do know some things
I am supposed to
breathe and eat and drink water
I am supposed to
cry and yell and pray
I am supposed to
talk and hug and tell stories
and
I am supposed to love
I am certainly supposed to love
even if I don’t know how
even if I have forgotten what that word means
I am supposed to love and hug and cry and yell and pray and tell stories and drink water and talk and breathe

I should breathe
just breathe
just keep breathing.

Without Words

My aunt has cancer. It has metastasized and we don’t know how much longer she has to live. Last week, my mom and I went to visit her. This was the first time either of us had gotten to see her since she was diagnosed less than a year ago. It was a powerful, beautiful, wonderful, and painful experience. Most good things are.

I wrote this poem for her: 

There you are.

Well,
There you are.
Bones stripped of flesh
Like a plate of chicken wings, post Super Bowl.
You sit, infrared lamp on the tumor.

Smiling at me and eating kale

There you are.
How do I tell you:
How much I love you
How much you mean to me
How sad your imminent death makes me
How do I tell you:
How beautiful you are
How strong you are
How wondrous you are
How do I tell you these things
When I barely speak your language.

You are a small woman
With the spirit of a buffalo
And the heart of an elephant
You endure.
You remember.
You persist.
You care.

You are a force.

Not a tornado or an earthquake,
You. Are a tectonic plate.
You make the earth move
In our family, you are the earth.
You are steadily there. Always moving,
Shaping, pulling apart, drawing together.

You are a force of nature, a steady
enduring, elephantine force
You outlast. You always have

And yet here you are
Down to bones
And the cancer likes sugar
So you eat kale.

And I love you
And I miss you already
And I don’t know how to tell you that
Beyond with these few words
But words never seem like enough
They never seem like enough
And yet
They are what I have to give.

So here they are:
I love you, Aunt Patti.
And I will miss you when you are gone.
I miss you already.
And there are not enough words to say
And there never will be.

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If you feel touched by this or want to help my aunt out, she has a Go Fund Me support page here: https://gofund.me/deafcancerjourney

Thanks for reading! -Veronica

To the ones before the blade

So I wrote this poem a few weeks ago, right after the Orlando shooting. I tried to get it published, but that didn’t happen. Hearing about Dallas today reminded me of it and reminded me of the sentiment this poem expresses. No one deserves to die. We are all equal in this. We are made for eternity. And any violent death is a senseless sad-soaked tragedy.  

To the ones before the blade:

When they described the shooting
in Orlando,
they said that you were
“mowed down.”

No person
should ever be the object
of such a phrase.
“Mowed down,”
a phrase we only use
in lawn care
and mass shootings.

Like blades of grass
before the spinning blade,
you were mowed down

You
Were
Mowed
Down

No person should ever be the object of such a phrase.

Just Thinking

Okay. 

So maybe I overthink things. 

Some things, right?

Not all things. 

So how do I know which ones 

have been overthought?

which ones have been underthought?

and which ones have been thought about juuuuust right?

It seems to me like the safe bet, then

is to think about everything

just 

a little

bit

more. 

Right?

Just in case. 

Good

Good does not appear
like a blossom overnight
Good is not a wave
that rushes into sight

Good consists of small things
Good happens slowly
Good is daily choices
Good is those times when you are alone and
the only one to hold you accountable
is you

Good happens quietly
Yes, good can move mountains
and occasionally it happens in spectacular fashion
but mostly good moves mountains
one shovel full of dirt
at a time

Presence

I haven’t written on here in some time and I am not 100% sure why I am writing on here now, but here it goes…

It has been a year, well I guess every year is…a year. There aren’t many other options. I have a lot to say, but rarely do I have something to say and the time or initiative to put it on here.

Today I have some of each, but not enough of both to write much. I did find this poem, though. I wrote it back in October and it applies quite well to my life right now. So here it is:

Presence

I will take each day
one page at a time
one line at a time
one word at a time

I will not let the next line
of dialogue
usurp this line of dialogue

What is to come
will come
what is now is what I
will know

now

and that is all
for now
One line at a time.