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And We Dance

for nicolas.  january the 13, 1990 – july the 25, 2011

moments of childlike joy
the children’s museum, the science museum
and we dance

 

those nights that we shared
with the little princess and scrubs
and we laugh

those moments you saved my life
hours and hours of prayer
and we weep

we had our disagreements and fade
but you always were my friend, nicolas,
and we care

as the waves of time come crashing
and stop crashing far too soon
and i mourn

i long for the day where we reunite
and we can catch up once more
and i wait

together, no longer in pain
together, with our creator
and we dance

oh, i thought about You the day that nick died, and you met between my breaking. i know that i still love You god, despite the agony. cuz people they want to tell me You’re cruel, but if nick could sing he’d say it’s not true ‘cuz you’re good. cuz he loves us, whoah, how he loves us, whoah how he loves us, whoah how he loves…

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It’s been 11 months. 

It’s been 11 months since Beth died. 
I just want time to stop. 

I just want the grief to stop. 

I just want the emotions to stop. 

I don’t want it to be one year. 

It’s already been longer that I haven’t talked to her. 

I want to talk to her. 

So badly. 

I want the tears to stop. 

The pain. 

How is this fair?

What happened? 

Why did she have to die?

Why?

I feel so lost without her. 

It hurts. It really really hurts. 

Part of the reason my middle name is now Isabelle is because Isabelle is related to the name Elizabeth. And it’s a way to carry her with me. Forever. 

But why. 

Why did she die. 

I still cry when I see cinnamon or pumpkin spice flavored things. 

I still cry when I see a meme I’d share. 

I still cry when I’m in the hospital alone and my texting buddy is gone. 

I still cry. 

I’m still lonely. 

And I miss her. 

I don’t want it to be my birthday this year. I don’t want to celebrate. I just want to skip from the 23rd to the 27th.  

Because it means two days later will be the one year mark.

And I’m just not ready. 

I close my eyes, and I see your face. If home’s where my heart is, then I’m out of place. 

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And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me. 

I miss you, Beth. 

It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that it’s your birthday and you’re not here. It’s not fair that I’m sitting in the hospital waiting for my ride home and you aren’t here to distract me. 

Nothing prepared me for losing you. Nothing prepared me for the heart drop feeling when I was told. There really are no words for that moment that changed my world forever. 

I’m changing, Beth. I’m growing. I’m writing a memoir. I’m starting to get published. I’m finding answers to my fragile health. 

I want to share with you who I am becoming. I wish that I could have you call me a dork or a dweeb again. To tell me things are going to be okay. 

But the person who told me things would be okay is why I am not okay. I am not okay. I am broken. I am sad. I am lonely. 

And I’m completely lost without you. 

And when the broken hearted people, living in the world agree. There will be an answer, let it be. For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see. There will be answer, let it be. Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah let it be, there will be an answer let it be. Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be, whisper words of wisdom let it be.  And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be. 
I’m trying, Beth. I’m trying to let it be. I’m trying to stay hopeful and rise out of my hour of darkness. My health is failing. My depression is worsening. I’m spinning wildly out of control.  

I just need you to tell me to let it be. 

Love, Nora. 

PS: the ER sucks, I have a headache, and please tell me freaking ride to get their ass here. Kthanxbai love you. 

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it’s hard to say it, time to say it

Every memory of walkin’ out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was lookin’ for
It’s hard to say it, time to say it
Good bye, good bye, good bye

 

Six months next week.
Six long, lonely months.
My heart hurts. It’s broken. It’s shattered.
I will never be the same.
Six months later…

I read our text messages and Facebook convos, with her teasing me about coming to visit her.
I read our inside jokes.
I read about the love we shared.
And I’m reminded of how beautiful our friendship was.

Others would tell us – both while she was alive and after she was gone, how evident our friendship was. With the way we interacted and stuff.

But she’s gone.

And I hurt.
Oh, how I hurt.

I have one less Christmas card to mail out. One empty card sitting on my desk.

I have one less person to share my medical angst with.

I have one less person to invite to my not-very-likely-to-happen wedding.

The grief hits at the strangest times. Such as 1:48 am on a Thursday morning.

But this is the time she’d be on. This is the time we’d talk.

And the chat is hauntingly empty.

 

We used to listen to the radio
And sing along with every song we know
We said someday we’d find out how it feels
To sing to more than just a steering wheel

 

(Admin note: I’ll add an image description later. Sorry it’s not up yet. I’m tired and grieving and not up to posting it yet).

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I still can’t believe you’re gone

I carry the things that remind me of you
In loving memory of
The one that was so true
You were as kind as you could be
And even though you’re gone
You still mean the world to me
In Loving Memory – Alter Bridge

Dear Beth,

It’s been four months. Four long, lonely months. And not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. Nothing happens in my life that I don’t want to tell you about.  There is so much in my life I need to update you on. There are so many things I want your advice on. There are so many funny things I want to share with you. But I can’t. There’s no way to. It’s not happening.

I wish I could tell you how scared I am with my health. That I’m losing weight again. That I’m running fevers. That we don’t know what I can and cannot eat again. I wish I could tell you that once again, I’m covered with random bruises and mystery rashes no one can explain. I wish that I could ask your advice. I wish that I could whine to you with all the IV pokes and blood draws I’ve had yesterday – I know we would have had something witty to say about the last ER trip that took four gosh darn pokes. I wish i could tell you about the good doctors, the bad ones, the nurses who made may stay worth it.

I wish I could tell you how we’re finally getting my home health care slowly lined up. I wish I could tell you how I’m doing something for Halloween for basically the first time. I wish I could tell you the funny things my doctors say, the off the wall things they say. But I can’t. And I never can again.

I wish I could tell you how much fun I’m having in my new video games. I wish I could share all the pumpkin spice related goodies with you – you would be SO HAPPY at all the pumpkin spice stuff this fall. It’s everywhere. But you’re not. You’re not here. You’re not anywhere.

I’m lost without you. You are (not were, are. you always will be) one of my best friends. I need you, Beth, dammit, I need you. I have your wombat I never gave you. I have the stuffed critters you sent me. I was going to send you a jar of cinnamon peanut butter. But none of this happened. And it never will.

I’m angry. I’m bitter. I’m sad. And I love you. I love you so much. I didn’t realize how much I loved you, even though I knew you were one of my closest friends. No one told me how much losing someone you cared so fucking deeply about would sting. I just want you back. But it’s not possible.

I miss you.
One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you
One More Day – Diamond Rio

Love you forever,
Nora.

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What No One Tells You About: Grief

Image: Blue text on a white background states “Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

When you lose someone who means the world to you, when you lose someone who WAS your world, there is so much that happens. And there are the little things and even the BIG things you expect… and then the little and big things you DON’T expect.

No one tells you you never stop opening the chat window. No one tells you you never stop logging on, expecting to see a message. A post on your wall that will make you laugh. It’s gone.

No one tells you you never stop picking up your phone to send a text or a Facebook message.

No one tells you that the words “Let me know if you need anything” literally mean nothing. We don’t know what we need. Sometimes what we need is a message saying “Hey, can I come over?” And sometimes we want someone over. But  it doesn’t mean we necessarily want to talk. Maybe we just want someone so we’re not alone. So we’re not without people. We need people… but sometimes we need people while we’re alone. We need someone to just sit with us, who is there if we suddenly pipe up with something, but who is also just there in the silence.

We need someone who is okay if we sent a frantic text at whatever AM, or a Facebook message. It’s okay if you don’t read or respond, don’t feel you have to. But we need someone to share our pain with.

No one will replace the person we lost. Nothing can ease our pain. I don’t believe that grief ever goes away. Instead, I believe it changes. It grows with us and it becomes a part of us.

I truly believe that people mean the best, but no one tells you how much it fucking HURTS when people say “Oh, I know exactly how you feel.” NO. YOU. DO. NOT. You did NOT have the same relationship I did. You did NOT lose the same friendship I did. We lost the same person and we’ve both lost loved ones, but you have no idea how I feel. You can relate. You can feel similar. But you have no idea exactly how I feel, and those words hurt so much.

What no one tells you is how lonely grief is. That it’s the moments you least expect it is when you are  blindsided by it. That when you’re walking home alone from the grocery store at midnight, it’s when the tears fall. When you’re on the bus and you see something hysterical that you’d text them, it’s when the familiar salty feeling overwhelms you.

Grief is forever. It becomes a part of you. No one tells you that. You expect that in time, you will get better. I don’t believe you do. I believe as you approach your new normal, you change. But grief is the price of love – and it’s worth it, I think. I think that love is the greatest  gift you can give anyone. And in a way, I think the grief and pain is that final gift you can give them. For it means that your relationship meant something – to both you and to them. It means that their life meant something to someone – to MANY someones – to COUNTLESS someones. And that’s what matters. That’s what love is.

 

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if home is where my heart is then i’m out of place

Oh, I thought about You the day that Beth died
And You meant me between my breaking
I know that I still love you God, despite the agony
‘Cause people tell me, they tell me you’re cruel
But if Beth could sing, she’d say it’s not true
‘Cause You’re good
‘Cause He loves us, oh how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves us…

Most people have not heard the third verse of How He Loves – which even before Beth died, I found the most powerful. To those who do not know the story behind this song, pulled from Wikipedia ‘cuz I’m super classy like that:

“McMillan wrote “How He Loves” following the death of his best friend, Stephen Coffey.Coffey was a youth minister for MorningStar Ministries. On November 1, 2002, during a church prayer meeting, Coffey prayed out loud “I’d give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation.” That very night, he was in a multi-car accident and died of serious injuries.”

So, I changed the name/gender to be about Beth. My faith has been a clusterfuck lately. It’s been a mess. I don’t know that I’d call myself a Christian but I do call myself a Christ-follower. I love God. I know he’s real. Despite the pain.

Despite the grief.
Despite my world crashing down while I’m literally thousands of miles away.
While my heart is somewhere else entirely.

And I find my faith shaken.
Why the hell did someone who had been through so much shit have to die before things could get better?
Why the hell can’t our broken system help people who need it, instead of leaving them to find for themselves?
Why the hell does this shit have to happen?
On what Earth is this fair?

Why did I lose one of the people I love the most on the day love won?
Why is the day that love one for so many, is the day my heart broke?

But.
But I know Beth wouldn’t want my faith to be shaken.
I know she wouldn’t want me to doubt God and wonder what His purpose is in all this,
I know she would have some smart-ass answer, that would make me laugh until I cried.
And then everything would be okay.

I bought her wombat today, though. Oh, how she teased me about bringing her home a wombat. She wanted me to smuggle a real one, you see. Because ANZ security TOTES (my use of totes is intentional because she would rim the hell out of me for using it). So it’s not a real one. Sorry, Beth. But I know, with all my heart, you are getting your wombat nuzzle right now.

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a bittersweet day

It was the day she looked forward to.

I can imagine her reaction to all the rainbows. She loved rainbows. Tye dye. Bright colours.

Oh, how much she would  have loved to see facebook lit of rainbow.

Oh, how happy she would have been to see that marriage was finally legal. To see love win. To see us finally stepping in the right direction.

I found out about gay marriage and not even a full hour later, I found out that Beth was dead.

I found out the friend who loved Peeps and Rainbow and Tye Dye was gone.

The friend who I could say “hippos” and knew exactly what I meant.

The friend who we could assess each other’s moods in Princess Bride and RENT quotes.

The friend who I could text with random shit.

The one who I could blow through thousands of texts in a month. Gone

The one who shared my love for Muppets and Sesame Street and Doctor Who. The one who finally convinced me to watch Buffy and Firefly.

The one who would stay up with me and chat with me in the hospital.

She kept me company when I was sick.
I kept her company  when she was sick.
We kept each other company when we were both sick.

She could read me like a book.

We both supported each other.
For our mental health.
For cutting toxic people out of our lives.
We were there.

Some days, my only laugh of the day came from the wild and wacky convos from Beth.
And now where will those days come? Who will make me laugh those days?

And right now, I am thousands of miles from home. From Minnesota. Even further, than usual, from Colorado. My friend Stephanie told me that I’m in the best place I could be right now – that I’m in Australia and whatnot. That I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me, vs being locked in my apartment alone. But it doesn’t make this any easier.

Love won.
But I lost a member of my family of choice.
What kind of fucking victory is that?

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Every lament is a love song.

“I close my eyes, and I see your face. If home’s where my heart is, then I’m out of place. Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow? I’ve never been more homesick than now. “

“Memories surround me but sadness has found me, I’d give anything for more time. Never before has someone meant more, and I can’t get you out of my mind.”

Grief is a funny thing. When we lose a loved one, a family member or a friend or even a beloved pet, it’s like a suckerpunch to the stomach. Loss hurts when we expect it, but it also throbs when it blindsides us. It aches deep within when it’s a young life, when you’re left with the “Why him? He was so young and held so much promise. Why her? She had such a passion for Christ!” It throbs when it’s an older person, as you look at all they’ve accomplished in life and you’re left with just your memories, treasuring each one but yet longing for more.

It’s funny, because from the moment you get the phone call that they’re gone, from the moment you get the email, the text, the Facebook message, your heart stops. Everything, for that moment, end. And you’re plagued with regret. For one friendship you regret falling out of touch even though many times you felt the tug to get back in contact. For another one, you’re plagued by the text message and Facebook argument that was never resolved and you completely fell out. It doesn’t change the pain and anger from a life loss, and the flood of memories from the good times.

The different types of grief are difficult. The fresh, raw grief that is like a sudden sharp knife, and the dull, aching grief that remains once the initial wave has worn off. No matter how you slice it, it sucks and it hurts.