Letting Go

broken-heart-syndrome-300x200

 

April 7th, 2018. Six years ago today, I lost my precious mum to pneumonia. She was the bravest, most selfless person I ever knew. Most of her life, she was ill and in pain, and yet she never complained. Like, not ever. She was my hero. She is my hero. If I could be a quarter of the person she was, I would be happy. She write poetry. Although our styles are very different, I inherited her love of all things literature. I thank her for that every day.

This is a poem I wrote about losing her …

Letting Go

I sit next to the 

sterile hospital bed and

wonder how she got this ill—

how I never noticed,

when I was supposed to look after her.

I watch as the angry mask

furiously forces air into her lungs,

her body slamming into the bed

with every blast.

Holding her lifeless hand,

I trace the misshapen 

fingers and thumbs.

Memories cascade before my eyes;

I am a grown-up child again,

five years old, taking care of my mum,

(my precious responsibility),

but I was selfish, 

all I wanted was a mum

who could play and run with me, lift me, 

hold me.

None of that matters now,

my sole desire is for a mum who can 

hear me, 

speak to me,

but I know she is lost forever,

so I turn to the doctor and

nod,

and the mask is removed;

the machines switched off.

I’m terrified as I watch her breaths—

almost imperceptible—

gradually fade to nothing.

She is still,

pain free, 

and I am broken.

I look to her face,

and in her very last breath 

she has smiled, 

and I know she has seen my dad,

the love of her life.

They are reunited in death,

and this comforts my shattered

heart.

 

A Childhood Memory

The mental health writing group I’m part of gave the prompt to write about a childhood memory. I tried to keep it happy. It was hard.

 

childhood-memories1

 

Should be simple, right? But, as of right now, I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I’m hoping something will come to me as I type. You see, this prompt (or, a similar one, at least) came up a couple of months ago in something else, and I discovered I don’t have memories from childhood. Except for the nightmares I have pretty much every night and the flashbacks every day. But I’m not going to write about any of those. I want to write about something normal.

And so, I struggle. It’s the strangest thing. I try to think about my childhood, and it’s like the part of my brain which holds the files for that part of my life is locked. Or, maybe it’s been thrown away. I’m not sure.

Okay. I’ve made myself a coffee and had a hard think about this, and I have something. Something that, actually, makes me really happy when I think about it.

I know I’ve mentioned a few times how important music and dance was to my Dad’s family. They were all singers and dancers, and I inherited the love for both. Today, music is the thing that links me back to Dad the most strongly. It’s the thing that can break me, but it’s also the thing that makes me feel loved.

So, this isn’t one specific memory of one specific event. Every Saturday night, we used to go visit my Auntie Beryl; Mum’s favourite sister. The car journey was about twenty-five minutes, and those whole twenty-five minutes were always packed with song and laughter and happiness. Dad usually let me choose the cassette tape (yes, I’m that old!) to play. Now, this is where I hold my hands up and say, “My taste in music is not cool. My taste in music is eclectic.” I guess, at the age when I used to go to Auntie Beryl’s with Mum and Dad (once I was thirteen, I opted to stay home alone and invite friends over) a lot of my musical taste was based on Dad’s tastes. I have to admit, I still like that music. I’m talking music from the 60’s, 70’s, country music. There were two cassettes I chose most often: one was a Beatles compilation and the other was a 60s compilation. On the Beatles album, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was mine and Dad’s favourite. We always (and I mean every time we listened) discussed how sad the song is. It felt like it was really important. It connected Dad and me with a fine lasso. The song from the 60’s album that caught me was ‘Those Were The Days’ by Mary Hopkin. Again, we discussed the meaning every week. Dad would talk about how I should’t waste my youth because it would be gone far too quickly, and you can never get it back. He always had this wistfulness in his voice. It’s weird how I understood that; even when I was only, like, six or seven. I already felt like I’d wasted too much time feeling unhappy, and I was terrified that life would only get worse from there. I feel so sad when I hear that song today because my youth has gone. I did waste it.

Ahh, nuts! I meant to keep it happy. Despite what I’ve written above, we did sing along to all the cool songs. Like ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia.’ That was one of our favourites. I still love it today. Those car journeys were special, bonding time. What I wouldn’t give to be in the car, singing along to Johnny Cash and Dusty Springfield.

Right, now I’ve started to write about a memory, I’m going to continue. Once we got to Auntie Beryl’s, I always had a great time. Mostly, because I was away from home, and away from my grandfather and my bedroom. My two cousins, who are both older than me, used to play with me. They had a huge garden with lots of places to hide and build dens. I loved going there. But the crowning glory for me was the dart board they had in their hallway. I loved playing darts every week. I don’t know why because it’s not exactly an exciting game, but I always looked forward to it. And then, there was the ice cream. Every week, Auntie Beryl gave us a Pzazz ice cream. I don’t think they sell them any more, but they were delicious.

On the way home, Dad would start by singing his own, local songs that he and his family used to sing in pubs and clubs. They were, mostly, really depressing, and I remember feeling sad when he sang them. But they were beautiful, too, and his voice was rich and lovely. He sang some funny, slightly rude, songs too, and I remember Mum tapping his arm more than once and telling him to stop.

It may not sound like much, but these moments are among the happiest of my life. Yeah. So, there is my memory.

Lullaby

Well. Here is a surprise. I have another happy poem to share today. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s most unusual, that’s for sure.

To be honest, I did have a prompt for this one. It is: “In poetry form describe inner peace – the quiet of the soul – the place where you find that moment.”

wallup.net

Lullaby

A quiet Sunday afternoon,
with sun stretching over the
field next to our house,
we sit out back
together—
no words needed
appreciating the warmth
and the golden hue of the crop …
a dazzling dragonfly
skitters
between us, sending out the tiniest
vibrations of good will,
but other than that the air is
s t i l l,
l a z y,
blackbirds chirping in the old oak tree,
I close my eyes and listen to their song,
and my heart slows and beats its own
lullaby.

A romantic Friday night,
wrapped in David’s arms,
watching some old movie we’ve
seen a hundred times before,
his warmth permeating
my body
love
latching onto my heart and keeping it
safe;
laughing together
at nothing important,
the tranquility that settles in my stomach
with one touch,
and my heart slows and beats its own
lullaby.

Each day as time marches away
I am able to look back and find more
happy memories,
moments frozen in time,
perfectly formed stills
of childhood,
my mind is sifting the vast
catalogue
I hold within,
dispensing with all the hurt and
pain,
and retrieving the times I was loved;
a mother so proud,
a father who tried his best,
and when I am lost in these reveries
my heart slows and beats its own lullaby.

Evil C

esophageal_cancer_awareness_mini_button

 

Evil C

Poisonous cells
dividing, multiplying,
the equation of
loss
trampling our hearts.
This sum of
devastation
crawles over and under
our skin,
leaving numbers seared in memory
(one in three, one hundred per cent sure)
facts and false hopes,
tears and prayers,
strength tested and
broken,
life taken and tossed aside.

No matter how many times I do the maths,
the answer always lies in minus you,
with the addition of
heartbreak
thrown in for free.
Will the outcome ever change?
Will my bones ever stop
aching for you?
I think not.

 

  • For my Dad. 13/05/1935 ~ 21/09/2007.

The New Home

I wrote this piece of flash as a response to the challenge of writing a 100 word story.

Frail Hands

 

The New Home

Breaking glass shatters my thoughts.

“Who’s there?”

Silence. My heart thrums, reverberating inside my head. Why are they torturing me? Grabbing Steve’s baseball thingy, I creep toward the sound.

The cooking room, that’s where they are. I push the door open and catch her red-handed. “Stay where you are, I’m calling the police!”

“Mum, it’s me, Claire. Put the bat away.”

“No, stop trying to trick me. You’re here to—“ The words get lost somewhere inside my mind. Why can’t I remember?

“Oh, Mum. Let’s get you to bed. You’re just over-excited about your new home.”

 

Going To A Town

Going To A Town by Rufus Wainwright

 

This is my second song choice for the Soundtrack of my Life activity.

I’m skipping forward a few years today. This song was released in 2007, and it just happens to be my favourite song of all time. That said, I was a little unsure about including it because it’s very political and has some slightly unsavoury religious undertones. But, it is also incredibly relevant to the political climate of today. Seriously, it could have been written about the current administration in the US. But it wasn’t. Rufus Wainwright wrote it at the end of the last Bush government. When asked what it is about, he says he was sick of the current government administration, and he felt America had lost a huge part of its soul.

The “town that has already been burned down,” to which he refers throughout the song, is Berlin. He actually went to Berlin to stay some time while he wrote the album from which this song is taken (‘Release The Stars.’) His theory was that places that have already experienced great loss—such as Berlin—reach a point where a single spark of change kicks off the rebuilding of a greater future. Let’s hope he’s right about that.

But, enough of the politics. That’s not the reason I love this song. I love it because it takes me back to a precious moment between my Dad and me. From the first, lonesome piano note, I am in a car, driving Dad to the hospital. He has cancer, and we know it’s rapidly catching up with him. I took him to every appointment he had. I was there for the highs and lows, and although they break my heart constantly, they are also times I cherish because I was there to share everything with him. Mum is disabled and stayed at home for most of his appointments (it was pretty hard trying to push two people in wheelchairs at once!).

So, this song. One day, on our way to the hospital, this song came on the radio (I even remember the exact piece of road). First the piano sounded, then the bass drum kicked in as Rufus started to sing, and Dad and I both reached for the volume button at exactly the same time. We didn’t speak for the duration of the song. When it finished, I stole a quick glance at him, but we were both speechless. It touched us both.

The way this song makes me feel now is nostalgic, sad, hollow, but connected to Dad. It is my favourite song. I love how it builds and builds, and the final crescendo at the end is mind-blowing. Even without the emotional connection, I would still adore it. It’s cleverly arranged (by Rufus), and the string section is brilliant. I love every part of it.

Soundtrackers

I’ve just spotted an activity on the online writing group of which I’m a member. It’s called ‘Soundtrackers,’ and it’s an activity I’ve taken part in previously and really enjoyed. So, I’ve signed up for this month, and I thought it would be kinda cool to share my entries with you guys.

The prompt for this activity is to, each day, share and write about a song from the year of our birth until now that means a lot to us, discussing why it means so much. This is perfect for me. Music is so important to me, and I’m rarely without it. So, here is my first choice:

Hold Me Close by David Essex

I chose this song for a few reasons. Firstly, it was number one the week I was born, so it fits with the prompt really well. Secondly, I love the song. From David’s sexy, cockney voice, to the catchy, bouncy melody, it all really appeals to me. And then, there is the beautiful David Essex. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in love with him. I remember watching him on a chat show when I was really young—probably under ten—and falling in love with his cheeky smile and doey eyes. Whatever charisma is, he has it in spades.

My Dad really liked his music, too, and I remember holding hands with him and dancing around the living room to a record of his which played on the old Gramophone Player. Most of my happy childhood memories are linked with music. My bad ones, too, if I’m honest. But, no bad with David Essex. I will always smile when I hear him.

Just as I hit my teenage years, a TV show called ‘The River’, and starring David Essex, showed on TV. I think it must have been on Sunday nights because I remember getting ready for bed early and sitting on the sofa next to Dad, watching this show that we both loved. That’s such a happy memory. It always amazes me how much power music holds. A couple of notes of a song, and I can be in floods of tears, or smiling and basking in the warmth of a truly beautiful memory. This song is most definitely the latter. I hope you enjoy it.

Broken Heart

This is another poem I wrote in response to a prompt. This time, it was to write about the sad moments in life. Needless to say, I could relate to this one.

Broken Heart

It doesn’t matter how long you’re waiting for

the inevitable to crash through your life,

when it does, you aren’t prepared—

how can you be?—

how can anyone steady their resolve enough

to be ready to lose their loved one’s love

forever?

The thing nobody ever admits is

when parents say they will always be there for you,

they lie,

one day (maybe not so far away)

they will die and you

will crumple and watch—helpless—as

parts of you break off and float away,

and you won’t know how to put yourself

together again,

and you question if you even want to.

The world—always scary—

becomes a place in which you inhabit the periphery,

perching as far away from others as possible,

waiting to fall into the depths,

from where there is no going back.

But who cares?

The well-meaning people

(who have so much wisdom you want to

scream at them to

stop!)

tell you time heals,

and to remember the good times,

but don’t they know it’s the good times that are killing you?

Without the laughter and love and memories of

that video your Dad searched everywhere to find

when you were ill and he just wanted you to smile,

getting over it would be so much easier.

I’m not sure about the “loved and lost” theory,

I never could figure why pain is better than

nothing.

Still, I love,

and with all my heart.

How fracked up is that?

Ghosts of Christmas Past

CTree

As the big day rapidly approaches, I can’t help but think of my parents and how much I miss them. Christmas was always a big, family time of year. My Mum loved the holiday, and her love filled the house. A big part of the joy from opening presents came from watching her face as I ripped the paper she had carefully wrapped. She smiled through every second of the day.

Things are different now. Mum is gone, and so is Dad. Christmas is a whole different affair, and their loss tugs at my heart even harder than usual. So I wrote this poem. Because, what better way to deal with my grief?

 

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I cast my eyes over our festive tree,
delicately graced with shimmering lights,
and my mind meanders
along winding lanes,
leading me back to
Christmases past.

The ghost of my mother
smiles at me,
anticipation lights up her face,
as her memory captures my reaction
to every gift;
so selfless, and now forever lost.

As I prepare our meal—
the most important of the year—
I feel sad it’s just for two,
but I can see the spectre of
my father,
sipping brandy,
rosy cheeked and laughing;
the warmth of his joy
tugs at my heart . . .
there used to be such happiness.

I return to this Christmas,
table settings are sparse, and
loneliness consumes me,
residual is the only love that stays.

My eyes tear at the sight of two                                                                                                                    empty chairs                                                                                                                                           I will feel their presence, see their smiles, and hope
my memories can keep them near.
These ghosts I love, as they loved me,
I’ll miss them for eternity.

In Dreams

grief1

In Dreams

Dreams of Mum,
of insignificant moments,
playing out as though
real,
and in those moments
she walks and laughs and
sparkles,
her eyes—light blue—
smile as she listens to
conversations between Dad and
me.

The three of us,
alive,
together,
and it feels so natural,
so safe,
and then I wake,
and my dream fades to
dust
I’m left with an ache that
twists my insides,
it’s like losing them
all over again,
my mind can’t compute how
they were just here,
so real,
and now they’re gone,
leaving only a faded cine-film reel,
spluttering in my head
flashes of love,
unpindownable.

A lone tear
escapes
my heart . . .
what I wouldn’t give
for one more
insignificant
moment.