Who I am, Who I’m Not and Who I Wanna Be

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As the full Frontier airlines plane calmly rose higher and higher above the cirrus clouds, I pulled out my journal to write what would be the last letter to my dear mother that she would physically ever be able to receive.  Less than twenty-four hours prior, I had received word that my mother had “days,” left on this earth.  Palliative care concluded that her life’s end was nearing as her oxygen tank was set to its highest level – I needed to come home immediately.  While at work in New York City, I booked the earliest flight to Kansas City from JFK that I could find.

As my ears uncomfortably popped from the heightening pressure of the plane’s cabin and “You Found Me” by The Fray blasted on repeat in my ear buds, I placed pen to lined paper as I described in my blog, “The Number You Have Dialed has been Disconnected”…

8/25/2011

Dear Mama,

There’s so much to say.  First and foremost, I want you to know that I’m going to write to you all the time (just like this) even when you’re physically gone.  Our pact keeps going through my head – the one where we agreed we’d die a day apart, but always argued who would go first.  Rather than sit here and tell you all the reasons why I’m sad and angry and for lack of better words, devastated, I want to tell you how much I love you.  Everyone who knows me or has known me well knows just how much you mean to me, though I don’t know if they’re aware of the depth at which this goes.  You are a part of my heart and we’ve always been so connected.  This past week and a half, a flood of memories (very good ones) have been inundating my mind and while I’ve welcomed them, I’ve also unwelcomed them because I know what they mean.  For some reason, I always know. 

“…Where were you when everything was falling apart? / All my days were spent by the telephone that never rang / And all I needed was a call that never came…” The lead singer of The Fray asked God as I wondered similar thoughts and the ballpoint pen continued writing away.  I knew there were absolutely no words that could ever genuinely suffice for the “last words” I wanted my mama to remember hearing me utter but I just knew I had to write something…anything…

I can only hope that we remain this connected once you’ve passed.  Tell grandpa and dad that I love them.  Oh, and John Lennon.  I hope you get to spend time with your brother, too.  I’ll never understand how someone who has given so selflessly her entire life, someone with the largest heart in the world doesn’t gain the world.  It’s so unfair and I hope that the good die young for a very good reason.  Unfortunately, no reason in the Universe will ever be good enough for me.

“…In the end everyone ends up alone / Losing her, the only one who’s ever known / Who I am, who I’m not, who I wanna be / No way to know how long she will be next to me…”

I was losing the most important person in my life, the person who knew me better than anyone currently, before or after, the woman who raised me, guided me and loved me unconditionally…

I can’t buy you your beach home in North Carolina, I continued writing, and do all the other things that I wanted to do for you.  Yeah yeah, these may be material things, but all things you deserve.  I’ll never get used to not picking up the phone and calling you every single day.  I thank you for trying mom.  I thank you for being so strong and teaching me to do the same.  I thank you for fighting like hell and staying positive even when you knew I’d lost hope.  You always say to me that I always do everything I say I’m going to do and that has always been my motivation for success.  Who’s going to tell me now?  Everything I do in my life, all the successes, have been for you – to make you proud.

“…Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me / Lyin’ on the floor surrounded, surrounded / Why’d you have to wait? / Where were you? Where were you? /Just a little late / You found me, you found me…” I sat in my confined window seat of the plane, desiring nothing more than to curl up into the comforting and familiar fetal position, where my life all began.

My mama weakly squeezed my hand as I read my four-page letter to her.  She may have been doped up on painkillers but I know she was coherent enough to be just as grateful as I was for those last intelligible moments of connection – Just her and I, holding hands.  I was reading to her not in the English accent as she would often have me do for shits and giggles but nonetheless, I was reading to her.  And instead of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, I was reading to her my innermost, touching thoughts that I could thankfully muster up on a packed flight halfway across the country.

I cannot imagine my life, this world, without you – I don’t want to.  I am so sorry that you have endured this kind of pain mama.  One of my favorite memories that keep playing in my head was the trip to Wyoming with you and Dad and continually playing Jackson Browne’s, “The Pretender” on repeat.   I’m listening to it repeatedly right now.  It forever reminds me of you.  ‘You started out so young and strong only to surrender,’ I quoted an affecting line from the song.

You sacrificed so much for others, especially your children, your entire life.  There really is nothing that I can say that will suffice my love and my sorrow – nothing.  I’ve never felt so at a loss for words.  Every time I look in the mirror, I will see you.  People will see you in me, too.  They already do. 

I’m strong because of you and I can only hope that I’ll remain strong like you when you’re no longer here to deliver your pep talks full of wisdom and values.  I don’t care what anyone else says because I know so many people love and care about you, but no one loves you more than I do. 

I thank you for always trying to protect me and making decisions that you thought best for your children.  I thank you for teaching me how to give and love, morals and values.  You don’t want a memorial but the rest of my life will be dedicated to you and our memories.  Thank you for always instilling in me an attitude of I can do and be anything I wish. 

I hope that, if we’re reincarnated, you live a long and happy and prosperous life with all the breaks in the world – that means never cleaning a single toilet or baby’s poopy ass.  I thank you for your humor that I never fully understood, but the funny thing is that I have a part of that in me, too.  Mom – I’ll never let you go.  I couldn’t.  I won’t.  And I’ll see you sooner that we know.  You have one of the most beautiful souls I know and that shall live on.

I willfully choked back the influx of tears – I needed to remain strong for my mama.  The inevitable tears need only be shed on my own time sans company.

Please visit me often, be it in my dreams or waking life.  I could go on forever because really, there are no words that truly suffice.  As I said in the beginning, I will continue to write to you for the rest of my life.  I love you so very much.

Love, Linds

After one of my mother’s brothers passed away late October of 2008, “You Found Me” by The Fray spoke to her in a way that I wasn’t quite familiar with as I had yet to experience the significant kind of loss that she had.   After the knowledge that my mother had only days, mere hours left, this emotive song strongly resonated in a way with me that it never had before and still continues to do so to this day.  I now understand why my mother questioned a higher power, why that song touched her lovely soul in an intensely emotional way that it barely touches others’ ear drums’.

“…For years and years and years and years / And you never left me no messages / Ya never send me no letters / You got some kinda nerve taking all I want…”

It’s like a prayer to this day.

Two Lovers Locked out of Love

Clinging to me like a last breath you would breathe.  You were like home to me…”

David and I, right after seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day. 07/09/2012
David and I, right after seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day. 07/09/2012

I stood on the concrete platform of the Q train at the outdoor Prospect Park subway stop in Brooklyn, bundled up in my embroidered black, winter coat, gloved hands in my pockets and my IPod blasting one song on repeat.  The passersby appeared to move at the same slow tempo as Ellie Goulding’s somber ballad, “I Know You Care.”  The crisp, cool night air lazily bit at my flushed cheeks as I stared aimlessly at the railroad tracks a few steps in front of me.  The repetitive piano melody began to match the wistful blinking pattern of my tired eyes.

“…You were like home to me.  I don’t recognize this street…” Ellie Goulding murmured into my ear buds.  I had lived in this neighborhood for the past eleven months though, somehow, everything still felt utterly unknown – forced, like I was often pretending.  I was frequently alone, desperately searching for comfort, companionship in the most unlikely places, just as I was standing alone on the train platform that particular night.

“…But there’s trouble ahead, I can feel it.  You are just saving yourself when you hide it…” the melancholy song hauntingly continued resounding in my ears.  It was all that I could hear.  Strangers’ conversations and passing trains were all unnoticed background noise in comparison to the discomfiting song that I had just heard for the first time that evening.

Little did I know at the time, as the wind from an approaching train whipped stray hairs behind my ears, there was trouble ahead – dire trouble.

Please don’t close your eyes.  Don’t know where to look without them…” I had already lost myself, four months into my marriage…”Outside the cars speed by – I’ve never heard them until now…” What is wrong with me, I asked myself as the bitter wind persistently stung my exposed, rosy skin and Ellie Goulding unashamedly confessed.

The affecting lyrics consumedly washed over my longing body, my heavy heart, like an icicle as I began to gently sway with each down beat.  “…I know you care.  I see it in the way that you stare as if there was trouble ahead and you knew it.  I’ll be saving myself from the ruin…”

There’s trouble ahead, I disappointingly told myself.

Stop thinking like thatbe positive! Another part of me violently countered my negative instincts.

Run, Lindsay – save your self from the ruin, the song spoke to me in unison with my intuition.

Stop listening to the damn song, for God’s sake – you’re gonna drive yourself crazy!  There is nothing to worry about!  This song has nothing to do with your relationship!  My optimistic, hopeful, at times, delusional side overpowered and momentarily convinced my keen instincts.

“…I know it wasn’t always wrong but I’ve never known a winter so cold.  Now I don’t warm my hands in your coat but I still hope…”

David and I always walk like that, I achingly recalled, my cold hand lovingly intertwined with his own in his coat’s pocket.  As I successfully used this memory as a justification for my naïve optimism, I noticed the bright, red neon letter “Q” in the distance.  It was my awaited transportation and also a temporary savior from the reality of feeling lost, alone and at the helm of an unexpected inner battle between my sharp instinct and my compassionate heart of boundless hope.

“… ‘Cause this is how things ought to have been and I know the worst of it wasn’t all that it seemed.  Why can’t I dream?… ‘Cause I know you care.  I know it’s always been there.”

 

 

 

This was Day 27

May 22, 2009

There’s all sorts of nasty news I’ll tell you about when I see you,” my dad explained with utter reluctance.  Nasty news – I repeated the words in my mind.  I immediately text three people after hanging up the phone: My best friend, Megan, my ex-boyfriend, Devin who both lived in Kansas and my current boyfriend, Elliot in Los Angeles.

My dad had had a meeting with his chemotherapy doctor who, in turn, shared statements of facts that we, technically, already knew of, but he just reinforced with evidence.  Part one of the nasty news was that if he decided not to go through with the chemo, then he’ll have about 6-8 months left and if he decided to go ahead with it, which he has, he’ll have about 1-2 years.  So, yeah, I guess you could say I’ve accepted the fact that my dad is going to die.  I mean, we’re all going to die someday, right?  However, I still believe in miracles.  I always hear stories about doctors giving people only so much time and then the patient surpasses the given amount by a landslide.

It’s just insane…after I left the coffee shop, where Linda called me and explained everything that was said in the meeting in further detail, I went to my dad’s.  My brother had just arrived from Colorado.  My nonna called while I was there and after my dad spoke with her, he came back inside and broke down.  I asked him why he was sad, if grandma had upset him and he replied, “No, I upset grandma.”  Linda later explained that dad’s whole thing about not having much time left isn’t that he’s going to die but how it will leave us, his children, grieving for so long.  He recognizes how much Linda misses her daughter and doesn’t want to “do that” to us.

I’m staying strong, but I’m also having my nightly lows, as I like to call them.  Not only do they occur at night, but when I’m by myself, driving, or even sometimes in public like Wednesday night at my cousin, Halie’s high school graduation when one of the student body speakers spoke on the topic of death.  The period doesn’t help with the emotional control and neither does the sore lower back I’ve been experiencing since Tuesday evening.

During the three and a half months I spent in Kansas City the summer of 2009, while recording my daily and/or weekly thoughts, I was simultaneously experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the form of nightmares.  They were so severe it got to the point where I was legitimately afraid to fall asleep.  Most nights, I stayed up as late as I possibly could, reading, writing, listening to music, talking on the phone – anything to keep from falling asleep into the inevitable nightmares that viciously haunted my slumber.

Exactly Three Years Ago

3/14/2011

Today was my fourth day of full time work in New York City.  The homesickness is off and on and I think primarily due to my mama’s sickness.  I’m absolutely loving my job, though.  I had lunch with Ms. Murray today which was nice.  It’s also nice to talk to someone who has been through what I’m going through – the big move, that is.  The loneliness just creeps up on me from time to time.  That, and the fact that my mother has cancer.  For example, this morning, while on the train, I realized that a part of me is angry at my mother for having cancer – wow – just writing that down brought tears to my eyes.  I have to move on.  I can’t dwell right now.