Thursday, July 12, 2018

Our Rhapsody

‘If I’m not back this time tomorrow - carry on, carry on.  Cause nothing really matters.’

As my car radio shifts to a piano interlude, my thoughts shift to you.  We always leave a mark on the people we leave behind. I wish I could go back and tell you that things do matter. You mattered.

No, I can do better than that.  Cliche.

Thinking about you makes me ache, your memory still bring tears now and again.

I’m still only going halfway.  I can do better.

My baby sister brought you up in conversation this week.  She remembers you as her friend that died, but she doesn’t really understand why or how.  She just knows that you were sick for a long time and then she woke up one morning, and you were gone.  When will she learn the truth? Will I have to tell her someday, years from now?

This life isn’t just any way the wind blows. Even if you say it doesn’t really matter to you, it does matter. It matters to me, to my baby sister, and deep down it matters to you too.  It bothers me so much that your eternity is so uncertain to me. My stomach is full of lead when I think about the wasted time I spent around you, I should have tried harder.  I shouldn’t have settled for the cliches of weather and how are things around the house? I shouldn’t have gone only halfway with you.  

I can do better. I will do better.

I just wish I could’ve done better for you.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Moonlight and nothing

Was there nothing?

Moonlight filters through broken glass. Smoke from the engine leaks into the night sky.

Were you awake?

Pedal down, we laugh and shout and turn up the radio. Never mind the driver and the age on his license. Never mind how buzzed he is.  A ride home is a ride home, after all.

Does anyone survive?

At least I wasn’t drinking. Sure I’m eighteen but I’d be in so much trouble if my dad ever found out. I know better.

Did you know the driver, a year older than you at nineteen, had twice the legal limit in his system?

The laughing stopped when he drifted too far over the solid white line.  Dirt flew through the air and I watched the tree get closer and closer.  

But you were in the back seat - I thought you should’ve been safe?

The car slid sideways until that tree smashed right into my door. The kid next to me, 250 pounds easy, wasn’t belted. He ended up on top of me.  It was 45 minutes until the medics lifted him off and lifeflight carried my body to the hospital.  Until then we lay there bleeding, alone, growing cold.

Was there nothing that could’ve made you think twice before stepping into that car?

The next morning my Dad, a paramedic, sits in front of the nurse and that registration girl and he cries. And cries. All six foot five of him.  But I don’t know that.  Every time they try to bring me out of it I start seizing again.

How do any of us survive our teenage years?

You never think you’re going to be the one. You know? The one they tell stories about, the girl who didn’t make it to graduation.  Funny how things turn out.

Did you know you were loved? Did you know?

I overheard the nurses talking, they’ve already alerted the organ bank.  I guess maybe that’s for the best. Maybe someone else can use this tired heart of mine.

Can I tell you there’s something more? Is it too late? What has this world done to you, little one?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Construction, Demolition

The whispered conversation in the waiting room, right outside the open door where I stand to file my paperwork.  She's worried about him, the nurse's won't let her back right now.

I walk back to my desk in the hall.  Thud, thud, thudding behind the construction barriers - I don't like my new post in the hallway on a desk with wheels.  Across from Critical Care Room #4.

Stretcher wheels, in need of oil, roll up to me as I politely demand name and date of birth, then direct the paramedics to the room saved for them.

Step, step, step, I follow them with a wristband for their patient.  Always playing catch-up since renovation began.

Back to the waiting room with paperwork, she's still worried but he's only here for nausea.  He'll be all right. Right?

Coworkers whisper she's the wife of Critical Care #4, tell me they wish she wouldn't sit so close.  She stifles conversation, with all that anxiety.

Back to my work station on wheels.  Thud, thud, thud, the construction demands attention I do not give.  Another rhythm consumes me.

The curtain is usually closed but it's pulled to one side.  They're doing compressions.  They're doing compressions?

I check the board, she was right.  Mr. 4 is only here for Nausea.

He's only here for nausea!!  Nurses, techs, leave him alone, he's fine!

Thud, thud, thud.  They breath for him.

She doesn't even know.  She's out there holding hands with family, telling them it's going to be all right.  She doesn't even know.

A new nurse takes over, compressions should not last this long.  Thud, thud, thud.

Thud, thud.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Now that you’re gone, too

Gina Giovanni
I’m sorry for abandoning you - I still cry when I think about it. I know it’s useless, I guess it’s just  hard to know what to say after the mountaintop we shared crumbled. I’m sorry for being less than you deserve.

C. Glacier
You’re running after a love I know is sinking. It will drown you if you let it, but my best efforts to warn you are ignored. I hope I’m wrong. I hope you survive.

Fiona Smythe
I killed you, didn’t I? I didn’t intend to, but somehow it seemed so much easier than telling you the truth. Maybe someday the silence that replaced you will become comfortable.  I’m sorry I lost the right to care about you. Just so you know, I still do.

I got in the car with you last night - late. You told me where to go and together we drove up that mountain. It was cold but you kept me warm with hot tears - reminding me of that day. Of the stage I stood on, the part I played. You told me I should be grateful for the memories and for you. After all, you never left me

Saturday, March 3, 2018


I didn’t invite Nightmare into my home, but he snuck in this week. I let my hair down for the night, climbed into a cold bed and turned out the light, thinking I was alone.

I read the news and suddenly Nightmare had slid from his hiding place and was breathing down the back of my neck. He whispered, “look how you failed, look at the pain and know that it’s your fault.” He made me cry - hard like when I was little, but mom’s not here anymore to tell me it isn’t real.

And even if she was, I couldn’t believe her this time.

Finally, exhausted, I slid my knife of truth across his neck and silenced him with a sentence: “Don’t lie to me - there’s nothing I could’ve done.”  Nightmare didn’t die, but crept back under my bed and kept quite long enough for me to fall asleep a few hours before dawn.

He was there the next night though, and he’d grown. This time I had to tell him to move over just so I could fit in the bed. 

Before he could start, I insisted it wasn’t my fault. He said that’s right my dear - you couldn’t keep her safe just like you can’t keep anyone safe.  No one is truly safe with Nightmare on the loose.

I finally realized that Nightmare was in my bed because I had opened the door and let him in willingly. So I tossed the blankets aside, went to my knees and talked to the good Shepherd. I didn’t have much to say, but I cried to him and asked him to take Nightmare from me. I thanked him for being the only good part of this - for providing comfort and a warm welcome for lost little children.

Nightmare sits outside my house now, curled up beneath my porch. He follows me to work sometimes, and visits me in the night. But he’s not in power for much longer, and I know someone much stronger.

Friday, February 23, 2018


“Meant to be.”

This is a concept that’s hard for me to get on board with. 

What does that mean, meant to be? Does it mean that God wants it happen? Or is it just something that we say to make ourselves feel better? 

I still think about the little boy we almost had. I was watching a television show and this family had a foster kid living with them.  It showed them bonding, learning about one another, and settling into their new life together.  Then, after a few episodes, the foster girl's mother (who they thought was gone for good) came back into the picture and they said had to say goodbye to the girl. All of their dreams of having her in their life forever were suddenly ripped away. 

I cried and cried about it, it bothered me so much.  I couldn’t figure out why, and then I wondered if maybe it was because my parents struggled with the same thing.   

I know God has a plan, and maybe that’s what we’re talking about when we say that something is meant to be or not. But so often humans act outside of God’s plan, sin gets in the way, so I think in the end it’s difficult to tell whether or not something is meant to be. Whether something was within God‘s perfect will or whether it happened as a result of someone’s mistake.

Maybe he ended up with a family that cares deeply about him. Maybe this experience was meant to happen so that my siblings and I would have an example of love from my parents.  Maybe that little boy didn't need our family, but another child will need a loving home and one of us will provide the home he or she needs.  I’m not really sure but I hope that little boy, who must be a little man by now, is alright. I’m praying for him tonight.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


“You invented me.”
The frozen dirt crunched beneath our feet and I studied the path, seeking out the best way forward.
“What do you mean?”
“Do we really have to go over this again?” She stopped and turned to face me. The brisk air stung my nose. “You don’t live in the real world, Eric.  You don’t face problems, and every time I turn around I’m hearing you tell me something new about myself.”
“Like what?”
“Like... well I don’t know.”  She turned to continue down the trail.
We kept on in the relative silence of the mountain path for a while before she said, “I don’t like tomatoes.”
“What? Yes you do.”
I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth.
“See?” She laughed bitterly. “This is exactly what I’m talking about. I’m so sick of those sandwiches you make me try every day and all their tomatoe. It’s so squishy and acidic. I’ve told you four times that I don’t like them but you’re always off in another world. You don’t see me and you don’t care.”
“Jovi, that’s hardly fair.”
“Isn’t it?”
“I love you, Jovi.”
“You’re doing it again!”
“Avoiding. Avoiding your problems, avoiding this conversation, avoiding real life!”
Our pace had quickened and we barely noticed. I shoved my hands in my pockets to try to warm my fingers. They were so cold they felt wooden.
“I’m not avoiding, I just-”
“Call her then,” she interrupted.
It took me a moment to realize what she was talking about, and when I did, my stomach dropped.
“Call who?”
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know.”
“Babe,” I said quietly, the frustration gone from my voice.  “That’s different.”
“No it isn’t.”
She stepped over a log and continued on at our brisk pace.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
My left foot made it over the log, but the tip of my right boot (a size too large for me) hooked under the log and down I fell. My hands were in my pockets, so I turned a shoulder to the ground in the half second of realization I had before I landed with a sickening crack.
For half a second I thought it was a branch breaking, but then lightning shot up my leg and I stifled a moan.
Jovi walked on, still talking, while I laid there for seconds unmoving, trying to figure out what to do.