Ta Da!

We talk so much of resolutions and goals, but what are you proud of about 2019? What’s on your Ta Da List?

I’ve written about mine extensively. It’s the work of my life, the reason I started this blog, but it wasn’t until 2019 that I really saw results. I saw improvement, but I hadn’t yet managed to sustain it, or found a way out of my pattern: crisis/recovery/crisis/recovery.  It’s all I’ve ever known. It’s how my family relates.

I see it now, the shift. I believe in it. I’m so encouraged and excited by that! Time and again, I’ve met with resistance, rejection, assault, attack, or heartache and upset, and I’ve responded with strength and calm.

My biggest success is the biggest loss, but it was my biggest trigger – my mom – and I DID IT! Poorly, but I did it. That was a toddling argument, full of mistakes and regret. Falling everywhere, bumping, crying, anger, re-centering and starting again, in one stilted conversation. If given the opportunity, I could build mutual trust with her. We could get better at discussions of thorny or painful issues. I could build a real relationship between us, with depth and substance. I understand, too, that it’s not available. She won’t.

Acceptance was the huge Ta Da for me in 2019. I can’t force it. I love us both enough not to ask again. The sorrow, of course, is that I feel hollow and unsatisfied by such a superficial connection, and it’s the only other option to shunning. The sole interaction they permit feels uneasy to me, inauthentic, like being loved with an asterisk.

But love it is. Just as Mom doesn’t have the right erase my origin story, I can’t pretend that love isn’t love when it doesn’t behave exactly like I want it to. For now, I can appreciate that. I accept her limits for our relationship, but meaningful acceptance of this quasi-“love” from my family is beyond my skill set for now. It makes me mad. I want to open my heart to it, but I’m not there yet. Layers…

Perhaps I’ll always feel second-class. It’s still love, the only way they know how. Today, it’s insulting. “Isn’t it a shame?” they condescend. “If only she’d stop causing so much trouble, we could welcome her.” I just won’t receive their embrace. Tsk, tsk.

As for their religious estimation of me, “pearls before swine” sums it up, but I don’t mind them seeing me as Esau, tossing my birthright for sin. We both feel superior in that regard, which is sad, really, and antithetical to love, but I can only handle so much. It’s unfathomable to me how they refuse to examine their thoughts. It’s positively willful, but they don’t see the action verb in their behavior. They’re so used to believing without thinking that they’re blind to the blinders they wear.

There’s a song in Book of Mormon Musical, in which the missionaries dance to a wonderfully irreverent tune about those dreaded, creeping questions. Before allowing themselves to complete any thought, they interrupt with the chorus. “TURN IT OFF!”

I know plenty of Mormons who think for themselves. I know countless intellectually curious, courageous individuals who explore truth on their terms and land in their own place on the spectrum of orthodoxy, but my family is culty. Gross.

Look down on me, then. We share that.

Our problems are behavioral, not theological, but I can see how that refusal to look deeply at an issue came from our religious culture. I believe, too, in genetic memory. Studies show that trauma alters genes, which are then transmitted to subsequent generations. When we feel history in our bones, we really do!

I’ve found a lot of understanding and healing in that notion, and when I sit in it, I feel my ancestors. They’re in my blood, pumping and alive. Whether they’re angelic or not (They are), they’re now.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” -William Faulker

I don’t think we’re doomed by genetic memory. In the context of ancestry, we’re all the perpetrator and the victim, and I believe we can heal our spirits and bodies in real time. For me, it’s overwhelming and so fulfilling to consider recovery in a larger framework, one that challenges my understanding of time. The cosmos itself offers too much discovery to bend my mind to, that tells me time isn’t linear. Time is both real and unreal. Can I heal the past? Yes. I’m healing me, and the past is never dead.
healing hurts

Drowning in Death

I haven’t written about all the death around me lately because death is a bummer, but I found out yesterday that another friend of mine died unexpectedly on Saturday and I AM FED UP.

Since October, I’ve lost three friends, one to suicide and two to alcohol. Two-and-a-half weeks ago, my young cousins – brothers aged 16 and 17 – died in a car accident, and my best friend’s mom passed on Feb. 25th.

I learned when I worked in hospice that I separate myself from the passage of elders. (“Old people die.”) It didn’t occur to me to grieve for my grandfather until the oldest woman in Utah died at the age of 104. She was on our service. When she passed, I realized that she was three decades older than grandpa had been – a full adult lifetime longer than he had – and I was furious! It was the weirdest moment.

It was followed by all the stages, all at once, and then I was fine again. I wonder if Grandpa would still adore me like he did when I was a kid, or if he, too, would have written me off like my immediate family has, after it became clear that I’m not Mormon, and I’m not going to be. I was only 26 when Grandpa died. There was hope yet.

Now I’m just a cranky, middle-aged lady that grows more convinced every day that humanity is an invasive species, and all problems can be solved by Cat.
penny

I hurt when Judy died, for my friend, mostly. They were extremely close. She was such a beautiful, warm, kind woman. Interestingly, she taught me a lot about death when I was experiencing it for the first time.

In high school, a kid in my friend group was accidentally shot by another friend. Judy flew up from Texas. It’s my first memory of her, other than as some adult somewhere in the house (before they relocated to TX), of no interest to me. She didn’t say much of anything, just sat there. I remember being so comforted by her presence. She didn’t do a thing, but she has this “roundness of energy.” You know people like that? With that sort of enveloping coziness?

Two days after the accident, I went to the home of the friend who fired the gun. Everyone was there from my group. I was in hell in that room. I hadn’t gone to the bonfire, and as a result all of my friends were trauma-bonded without me. What the hell does a 17-year-old kid say to any of this? I remember Judy laughing at one point. She’d been saying something, I don’t know what, and she laughed. I was aghast! This was sacrosanct!

And life goes on, the sacred and profane. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

I didn’t visit Judy the last two times I was in Texas. She was literally steps away in the house across the pond, but I was sick one time and the kids were sick the other. We couldn’t risk her health. I keep feeling like I should’ve gone, but but but …

I loved Judy. She made me feel a part of the family.

I didn’t realize for another decade that I’d been traumatized, too, by my friend’s tragic death. I hated myself so much back then. Now I had to look in the mirror and wonder what kind of sick person wishes she’d been at the scene of her friend’s bloody death. I just remember being jealous (jealous!), feeling terribly alone, and hating everyone.

Years later, mom and I would agree that that was one of those moments my angels stepped in on. With the fragile journey I would take with my mental health, I remain convinced that I wouldn’t have recovered from witnessing such a thing.

Then you feel guilty feeling like someone or something interceded for you, and not for those who were there, or for my friend who caused the accident! They can’t unsee it either. Nevertheless, I feel like something bigger than me protected me from what I couldn’t handle. Perhaps it’s silly, but what isn’t silly about believing in an invisible, benevolent cheerleading squad?

Back then, I posited all blame for the aftermath of Matt’s death on my best friend. That’s been a trend in our life. Eleven years later, I’d picked some fight with her and she finally got mad. (She doesn’t do that.) “What!” she yelled at last. “What did I do?!”

“I’m mad at you for Matt!” I was stunned. I had no idea. I was horrified.

I realized when my cousins sons died earlier this month that there’s some deep shit buried in me still around that death in high school. I felt all kinds of anxiety and guilt about those boys. I didn’t know them. I’d seen them once at a family party. They were toddlers, tumbling over each other like kittens, for hours. It was so cute and funny!

I didn’t want to go to the viewing. I didn’t know why. But… ask yourself a question… I realized that the last time I’d seen a young man lying in a coffin, it was Matt. There’s just nothing okay about young people dying. Thinking about it even now makes me sick.

In fact, I got sick. I thought about my cousin in a wheelchair and how frequently ill she is. I couldn’t forgive myself if she got this awful head cold and didn’t recover. So I didn’t go at all, and then I got FOMO, for a funeral! What kind of sick person wants to be a part of such a sad occasion? And there was that feeling again, the one I’d known all those years ago as a teenager who wished she’d seen her friend shot.

That’s when I realized my sorrow was for Matt and myself, and not those boys – though my heart did break for my cousin, their dad, for their siblings, and their grandma, my favorite auntie.

And now Kenaram (that’s Kendall, after Hinduism). I hadn’t seen him for a long time. I’ve been sick all winter, and seeing Kenaram requires drinking to oblivion. I wasn’t up for it. Recently, I sent him a picture of a pair of Jeffrey’s boots – my friend Jeff was his brother – telling him, “I stole these boots off a dead man, and I think they should go to you!”

I wore them to E11 the summer Jeffrey died. I didn’t find out until two weeks later, just days before our local burn, and I felt him there with me, in his shoes, the whole time. I went stark raving mad, actually, and talked to him aloud all weekend. A crazywoman talking to herself out loud in a pair of boots she stole from her roommate.

People complimented my boots that whole festival.

“Thanks! I stole ’em off a dead man!”

I feel like I’ve unzipped from my body. Last night, I went to the grocery store and crossed against a light in a break in traffic. There was an oncoming commuter train! What the hell was I thinking?! It had to stop to let me cross! Good grief. I about died from embarrassment. I about died, full stop. Wtf?

I finally started crying this morning on the bus. I got a picture in my mind of his “tunnel” – color, color, color! – and the LOVE and relief he’s feeling right now, and I started bawling. Haven’t really stopped. Oh, I skipped work yesterday, just plain ditched, no message, turned off my phone and went back to bed, fuck-it-I-don’t-care. I came in today, asking what my boss had said. He told my colleagues I’d called in sick.

That was nice.

I’m so tired. I feel like I’m not even crying about Kenaram, or Jazzy, or Melissa, who killed herself in October. I’m crying because it was St. Patrick’s this weekend, and a little dip in mood often follows binge drinking.

I’m feeling sorry for myself. Death sucks, for me. I hate myself in its context, so I hate it.

The end.

kenaram and me

Burner Day in the Park 2014, a week after our first henna ~ Ginger4ever ~ © Rudy Van Bree

 

Jazzy Blue Brite

Twelve years ago, a beautiful light of a girl caught my eye at Burning Man. I’d seen hula hooping before, even stop-in-your-tracks hooping, but never that. Jazzy Blue Brite is the quintessential picture of my first burn, and burned in my brain.

It was 2007, and I was afraid of the desert. As far as I could see, life was not meant to survive that ancient, desiccated lake bed, so I didn’t drink anything but water. I was dead sober, and Jazzy Blue Brite was the moment that trance entered my being.

We go to Burning Man for an altered state. It doesn’t take long. It permeates that city. But that night, that party, there she was. Magic. Light. Pure beauty.
jazzy blue brite burning man 2007I was transported, without a drug or a drop in my body.

I found out my campmates had taken me to Ganesh, a camp and artcar from Salt Lake. That makes sense now, but at the time I knew nothing and no one. I had only met the guy I went with a week prior to leaving. Everyone was a stranger.

They’re my own community now, but Jazzy eked out a special place in my heart.

I had been hooping a little that summer with Jeffrey, who had beautiful flow and energy, but I wanted lessons from her and signed up for a workshop as soon as I got home. I was so intimidated and nervous.

From that 6-wk course and a dozen years of festivals and festy parties, Jazzy and I formed a bond that is so dear to me. We never hung out one-on-one, but every time we saw each other we ran to hug on each other. It was so validating, to know that she was just as excited to see me, every time, as I was to see her. She loved me.

I loved her, too.

Jazzy died on the 4th of January. She had been in an accident almost 10 years ago that took her friend. She was on the back of his moped and sustained serious injuries herself, but it was her heart that never recovered from the loss and survivor’s guilt.

Her carefree partying morphed. We were losing her. She wasn’t as visible on the circuit as she had been. Then again, neither was I. But even I had occasion to see the change, a year and a half ago. She was wasted at an afternoon hoop jam.

In fact, a friend of mine said after we left, “What’s up with Jazzy?”

“Oh, nothing,” I dismissed her. “We’ve all been there.”

Frankly, I thought she was being judgmental. Lord knows I’ve been the drunkest at the party before, and will be again. And most of us have been sloppy, even embarrassing, in the company of sober friends a time or two. Big deal.

I confess I do feel a little guilty about that day. She was so obviously going downhill, I see now. Hindsight.

Anyway, I love her, that sweet Jazzy girl. She’s a great loss, to our community and to me personally. I’m pretty philosophical about these things, but losing her hit me hard. I cried quite a bit. I began to perceive that maybe I’m not so placid about life and death as I claimed, but used that belief to distance myself from loss.

I feel the loss of Jazzy, in my whole body. I feel a little punched in the gut, and I’m quick to tears about her. I was supposed to see her that afternoon!

She’d been in the hospital for weeks, with organ failure. First, doctors told her family not to expect her to wake up from a medically-induced coma, but she did! Her organs recovered, except for her liver, and she was on the list for transplant.

She had a long road ahead, facing mental health issues and the great heartaches she had drowned, and learning to live sober. Transplant, too, is never guaranteed. Even with the best immediate outcome, her body could reject it anytime.

As a community, we settled into a schedule of taking afternoon shifts, so her sisters could go home to their families. A friend and I were slated for 2pm, and then we got the announcement. She passed peacefully in the morning, surrounded by family.

I had a strange sensation of grasping for her, just missing her, but feeling simultaneously that I was with her. In that hovering between – especially right when they leave, I imagine – our friends and family must see our closeness to them in thought, love, and intention.

It was quite beautiful, honestly, but very discombobulating. Those of us who were on the roster for the day went to lunch (for hours) instead. I connected with old friends and strangers alike. It was truly one of my happiest days. Everything you can imagine about such a day: Laughing, hugging, sharing stories, holding hands, holding each other.

We’re having a big Celebration of Life on the 27th at Utah Arts Alliance, and the Hoopologists are putting together some choreography in memoriam. They want to include as many as would like to participate. For her, I really really do.

I’m terrified. I haven’t hooped at all since the last time I saw her, and hadn’t much in the years prior. I was never that good at my best. Another situation in life that I plateaued at a few fun tricks, but didn’t want to work for it afterwards. Taurus laziness, if-it-doesn’t-come-easily, familiar pattern…

But I’m doing it. I’m going to rehearsals with girls who intimidate me and I’m performing my part in the background. Think 1980s low-mid-high level aerobics, haha!

Jazzy inspired me 12 years ago and she’s doing it again.

Get up, Christie.

Live fully. Work through the hard parts and DANCE when you get past them!

****

Jazzy’s family is left with large medical expenses. If you’re in a position to donate and feel moved to do so, please follow the link to GoFundMe. Thank you!

Jazzy Blue Brite’s Medical Fund

jazzy blue brite

exactly who and how she is ❤

****

1.15.19 (payday 😉 ) ~ I don’t have much, but I figured 10 bucks every 2 weeks for a couple of months will add up, and it makes me feel great. I loved this girl.

Imagine my delight when I clicked on the donation page and realized that I needed only to up my bi-weekly contribution by $2 to get the grand total to date to my favorite number: 222, plus one for good measure.

2222 We love Jazzy Blue! 🙂 ❤
2222 i love jazzy blue

Conversation with Cricket

I had another session with Danielle Tremblay of Insight With Animals mainly to connect with Cricket. I checked in with Penny, too, just to make sure she likes the new apartment and to see if there’s anything more I can do for her right now.

Penny likes the new space, says it’s light and bright, and warm, safe, and comfortable. She feels like I’m not finished unpacking. In fact I am, but she complained that “all of the objects aren’t out for me to look at.” I think because we’ve had roommates for so many years now she’s used to seeing the bookshelf in my bedroom, where most of the chotchkies sit. It’s in the dining area now, the least used room in the house because I’m a bachelor and I eat dinner on the couch watching TV. They’re spread out on the mantel, as well, and throughout the shelving in the main entryway, and all over, really.

Actually, I don’t know what Penny’s talking about. I’ve downsized quite a bit, but this place is so small I feel overwhelmed at times by “visual noise,” still. My knick knacks, however, are sentimental and vital. In the last couple of moves, I’ve been strict and severe. Keep only what you cannot part with. What I kept I love and I have to see it. It’s out, on display, fussed with, futzed with, admired, enjoyed. Stuff!

Perhaps, like me, Penny is blinded by eye clutter. There isn’t a designated “place” for objet d’art, per se. It’s everywhere, scattered throughout. Maybe she’s just adjusting to the new space. It’s different from anything we’ve had. It’s compact, no question, but it’s beautiful! By far, my favorite home to date. In all my life, this is my favorite cozy abode to come back to. It’s me. It’s mine. It’s dripping with pretty, albeit a little too much of it.

It always amazes and amuses me when Danielle can tell me what my homes look like from what my cats show her. Penny likes one room in particular with a “wall of windows,” she said. “Wow! A wall of windows!” She also told Danielle that the ceilings are “very tall.” Well, yes, they are.

When we lived at Jax’s house, I asked Cricket how she liked it, and she did. She made sure to tell Danielle of another apartment she expressly did not like, showing her a narrow, dark space. “It’s true!’ I said. “I called it The Rail Car, because it was long and narrow, and it had such bad natural light that all of my plants died but one.”

Oh, Cricket.

First, she showed Danielle the image of her wrapped around me like a hug, while seated on a desk or a table. That’s exactly how we were! The exam table comes down at the vet, and I sat on a bench just below it. We were wrapped around each other, and I whispered my love to her while she purred to her last beautiful breath.

Next, Cricket gave a big sigh and told Danielle, “Mom has to know that I am so relieved.”

I knew she was. That last night was so hard. I told her a couple of times, “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll see the vet tomorrow, and you can go.”

She said, “Thank you.” She was so tired, and also, curiously, couldn’t seem to get out of her body herself, so she needed that support. “Thank you for understanding.”

Then I was scared that maybe I’d waited too long, that I shouldn’t even have made her suffer the ups and downs of never quite finding our stable dose, but for those last several weeks. Of course, she had told Danielle back then that she was content to stay in body while we sorted it out, even though she felt lousy.

Danielle reassured me that I hadn’t waited too long. “I’m glad that you tried,” Cricket said. “It would have been a bit of a shock to go sooner.”

“She loved being with you in the physical, and she continues to love being with you now,”  Danielle told me, adding that she sits on the bed near my head.

That’s where she slept.

Penny reported that she’s on the ottoman sometimes, too, next to the bed.

That’s how she got in bed, and she sat there often. It was hers.

Cricket told me that Penny needs extra TLC, even though she’s acting normal. She’s still adjusting and needs extra attention. Danielle reported that Penny didn’t go through a period of mourning. She understood that Cricket was sick, and she intuited and understood everything that was going on.

“This is what happens,” Penny said. She did agree, though, that quiet time is “extra quiet” without Cricket’s physical presence.

I asked Danielle if she could tell me about the days immediately following Cricket’s passing, and you’ll never guess. She tapped into that dream! I woke up with a feeling of her on my chest – and with a cat that girthy, it was unmistakably Cricket – and remembered her biting me in my dream. Cricket told Danielle that the bite was so I would know it was real, and that’s exactly what made it real for me! It was so physical and tangible, I couldn’t dismiss it as my imagination.

Danielle complimented Cricket on how well she got my attention. 🙂

I asked about the song, and Cricket’s reply was interesting. She didn’t send it. It was from the general universe. Of course it was! I believe in a random and loving Universe, and I see signs and magic every day. Of course someone had my back on such a day, losing my big fat belly cat.

I still marvel at the lyrics of that song, the timing of it starting – first strum of the first note – just as I turned the engine, and especially that it was a new to me. Having never known the words, I heard Cricket’s voice.

It felt as though she was speaking directly to me. I could feel her right next to me, separated by a millisecond. I could see what she must be newly experiencing, “standing at the center of time as it uncurls.”

It will forever remain one of the most miraculous things I’ve experienced.

Danielle validated Cricket amplifying the volume of crickets I heard in the evenings after she passed. She told Danielle, “I chirp,” and showed an image of a megaphone. It’s true! The crickets were louder in the days following her passing. I haven’t been in my home long enough to grow numb to the sounds of it, but already that chorus is quieter than those first astounding nights. It was deafening!

Danielle was quite amazed herself by the moments Cricket and I were describing, and Cricket said to her, “Well, it’s all real, Danielle!”

“I don’t doubt that it’s real,” she chuckled.

Cricket told her she knows that most people don’t often believe or understand.

Cricket also told Danielle that sometimes humans who are in distress at the passing of another “almost un-gel” from their bodies. According to Cricket, that’s why Penny sat on me like she did those first three mornings. If I hadn’t had to get up, she’d have stayed there all day. Normally, she’d wake me and then head straight for her food after a cuddle and a kiss or two. I love her for holding me.

It’s so Penny to do so. In our first meeting with Danielle, Penny said it was her job to care for the grounds, to sweep energy. She did “rounds” several times a day, walking through every room but one in Jax’s house. (That was a curious detail to get right.)

I’ve always called her The Queen. I teased her that it’s all hers, everything under the sun. In fact, it’s hers because it’s her job. She’s proud of her work and takes it seriously.

I’m glad it’s her job to take care of me. Oh, Penny. You started it all, this feline magic.

Danielle was so supportive and validating. She said that the three of us are co-creating all of this together, and we have a beautiful connection that she appreciated witnessing.

I’m so grateful for her. It was everything I wanted and more.

Cricket’s paw print arrived just days before the reading, perfectly cricky, just like her.

Cricket's paw print

At first glance, I didn’t like it. You can tell she’s not pushing back and her claws are wonky. It quickly grew on me. It suits her. She was always just a little “off.” She reminds me of my disheveled high school English teacher, whose slip was always showing. Oh, my sweet Cricket.

Nightsong

It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby 😉 ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.

****

Penny searched for her all day Monday. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to see her anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.

****

This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s a hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, fat kitty!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious, the music of crickets here. It’s a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, to heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.”

Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. 🙂

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.

patio

Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. I didn’t expect to her to live to old age. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. Penny, I never thought as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened.

But I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality. It never even crossed my mind. I’m not ready to face the inevitable: Penny’s advanced elderly.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

Little Black Magicat

Cricket’s at peace, and so am I.

Yesterday, Cricket told me she doesn’t need to come with us to the new house.

I regret not realizing my dream of holding her by the fire. I imagine she’ll be there with me sometimes, but there’s nothing like the furry, warm body of a big fat belly cat.

I walked to my car in a daze with her empty carrier. I turned the engine to hear John Florence announce the time. (He’s the only host on KRCL to do that.) 9:11, her birthday.

I got on the freeway, directly behind a license plate beginning with 999 – end of a cycle – as the song that started when I turned the key began its opening lyric.

Sliding on the shimmering surface between two worlds
Standing at the center of time as it uncurls
Cutting through the veil of illusion
Moving beyond past conclusions
Rendering all doubt and confusion clear

If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere right now
I would want to be here

– Jackson Browne

cricket's pillow

She had a beautiful, peaceful passing on her pillow in my arms. She purred the whole time. I buried my face in her neck and told her how much I love her. “You’re a good kitty.”

saying goodbye

Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

Four For Four

I had really hoped – and moderately anticipated – that, knowing I’m leaving Sunday, they’d leave me alone-ish this weekend. Instead, Jax’s behavior is second in brutality only to the 1st weekend, when this long assault began. He’s relentless.

This morning, I had a friend coming over to pick up and store some large items I hope to sell, or move to a roomier place in the future. Jax decided I had done property damage to a cheap door with an even cheaper coat of paint. I damaged a chair, too, which belongs to him, he yelled, and I’m “not to remove any property from the premises.”

“You wanted to donate that chair when I moved in, and I gave you $20 for it.”

I don’t have a receipt. It never happened. Fine, keep your chair. Fewer reminders.

But he wasn’t done screaming. I should have just paid him when he offered a “deal” on future utility bills, because now the heat is going to be ridiculous. “You leave it running at [blanking] 80 degrees when you’re not even home!”

“I had the heat below 70 all night and turned it to 76,” I answered calmly, “so it would stay on during my shower and get a jump on the house temp.”

He knows how low I run it overnight, even in winter. I had gone for 5 minutes to get coffee for my friend and me, and forgotten to turn it down. He was home when I got back, and he’d found something “real” to fault.

I took the bait. I lost it. I told him to go ahead and sue me for the utilities. I’d counter-sue for half my medical costs when I was sick, and full civil punitive for pain and suffering. I screamed at him all over again for intentionally inflicting mental duress. I don’t know that I’ve ever screamed like that. I wish I hadn’t, but I just lost it!

LEAVE ME ALONE.

He knew how sick I was. The look in his eyes at every confrontation over the last 4 weekends haunts me. He loves it!

The thing is, he knew I was suicidal, wrestled a pill bottle out of my hands this spring. It’s much worse, in my heart, than kicking a woman when she’s down. It’s getting her down, and then dealing the death blow while she’s down there. That’s how this has felt to me. And he just keeps doing it, weekend after weekend.

He knew his behavior could kill me. He could see, that first attack, that I was more frantic and terrified than I’d ever been before, even more than when I started swallowing a handful of pills that day in April and went to the hospital.

And he keeps at it. Every weekend. Cursing, mocking, utter hatred. Delight.

He loves it! His face, the sadistic delight. I can’t unsee it. And I just lost it.

I screamed today. I don’t remember yelling like that, ever. Even in my violent childhood.

He laughed and laughed. I’ve been in my room bawling. I haven’t eaten all day.

I tried so hard to stay above this. I cannot believe what a sick, cruel, petty man he is.

Jax spent the rest of a beautiful late season day to… stick around and keep me stuck in my room? Every time I walk out, he starts again. Last year, this was his busiest time.

I threw some things in my car and drove to work to donate them, just to get out of the house. I thought about grabbing fast food, but it’s making me sick again. I was excited on my day off to make a yummy, healthy dish – and hoping he’d have gone home to his loving family by the time I returned. Instead, she had joined him here. With the kid.

I’m starving, and terrified that they’re going to spend the night tonight AND tomorrow, just to stick it to me as hard as they can before I go.

I’ll never be the same. I know I’ll be alright. The biggest improvement will come on Sunday, just getting away from the fear of “What/When/How bad/How long…?” The rest will be continued healing, but I’ll never be the same. I’m changed.

Something broke this time, deep inside. I’m not the same.

I never thought I could feel regret like this again. After each relationship – good or bad – I’ve been able to appreciate and enjoy them, able to remember the love or the learning. Except one, who nearly killed me when I was 22. 22 years later, I’m leaving Jax, who has proven much worse than the man half my life ago. 2 men. At 22, and 22 years later.

When I realized it, I cried and cried. I begged the angels, “Please don’t take my beloved 222! Please, I can’t! Don’t poison my 222. I love my 222! I need my 222.”

Near-suicide after both. The scary difference is that suicide is sad when a person is young. She had so much promise, potential, intelligence, beauty, talent. If only she’d held on to learn that it gets better. When a middle-aged woman dies of mental illness, hey, I tried. I found out. I have an illness that kills people.

Why is it okay when a person dies of diabetes or cancer, but not mental illness? We all get or have something. With my disease, I might decide someday when I’m done, and it’s still just an illness. We all die.

Not today, but I don’t have delusions about the danger. Neither do I believe anymore that my condition improves over time. I’m worse now than I was 22 years ago, with no hope, fewer options, less money, faded beauty, and now serious, chronic physical pain.

I joke that I’m far too spiteful to kill myself. “I’ll die before suicide kills me!”

It’s probably still true. I am a Taurus, and there simply isn’t stubbornness like that in another sign. “I’ll be damned if…” is a very Taurean motivation. Little can threaten my determination to get through it, by god, but I don’t know the future. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want this pain.

It took time but I was able, at last, to put my spin on that devastating perversion of my beloved 222. Now, I see it a wake up call to appreciate my vulnerability, and understand that I must always take care. It’s not enough to coast along in moderate health, or delude myself that I’m fine because “I’m not a tortured kid anymore.”

I have an illness that requires maintenance and vigilance, all my life. Okay is no longer good enough. The Universal Smackdown came to tell me: The time is now to choose optimum, and do the work to achieve it.

First, I have to get out of here.

I really believe the angels are telling me that it’s now or never. For years, I’ve been feeling the shift, the urgency of the work. DO IT, CHRISTIE. That’s what I started this blog for. What I’ve done instead is catalog years of me repeating the dynamic of my childhood in nearly every relationship and experience I have. It isn’t up to me what happened in my youth. It’s only up to me what happens now.

I must figure out how to flip that switch, and stop attracting and creating such ugliness.

I’m in so much pain.

I just can’t believe what Jax can do and say to a woman whose health is so precarious, when he shares 50/50 responsibility for risking that health, and 100% responsibility for abandoning her when she got sick.

Worse, he brutalized me before my meds could take full effect, knowing exactly where I was on that timeline. We were still “friends.” I thought he cared about my recovery. He helped me fall; It followed logic and love to lean on him.

Jax has known all along that his behavior had more power to do damage, precisely because of where I am mentally and emotionally. Further, he knows the layers of family trauma that coat every nerve he’s pounced on.

He knows what he’s doing. My meds might have kicked in by now, if not for constant abuse. He knows I’ve been having panic attacks, and crying for months. He enjoys it.

I just don’t understand.

Four For Four … 444 … 44  … Sturdy and built-to-last, solid, strong … 2×22 … 2222222222222222 … The first angelic hello I heard. “We’ve got you.”

Oh fucking kay.