The Ghost of Thanksgivings Past

As I sit here circa 8pm on Thanksgiving evening of 2014, I contemplate holidays past and history that I didn’t even exist in as of yet. I’m buzzed off of Gernacha/Syrah blends from Spain, Lambrusco from Italy and Pinot Noir from California’s Central Coast and in a slight food coma from the feast I began cooking mid afternoon that consisted of green bean casserole, roasted balsamic cauliflower, lemon/garlic/pepper chicken and tilapia among a couple other dishes. My famous pumpkin pie followed up this feast.

I think about what I was doing on Thanksgivings past and with whom I was sharing delicious food and beverage with and that crazy, inevitable aspect of life called change. God, I feel like I’ve lived several lives with the changes I have experienced. Two years ago, I was in my Brooklyn apartment celebrating with my husband and a close friend from Italy who has never celebrated this American holiday and last year, I was celebrating with my sister, Sandy, and her loving Mexican familia in a Los Angeles suburb. The circumstances and changes that led to each of these holidays are a blog or two of their own but the point is that life certainly is beautiful when the positive is what is focused upon.

This year, I am in the midst of a drawn out divorce, my friend is thousands of miles away in northern Italy, my sister, Sandy is still celebrating with her beautiful fam and I’m in love with a wonderful man who joined me in the kitchen assisting me with tonight’s feast. We later sat on the living room floor of my lovely Los Angeles apartment to ingest and enjoy our hard work.

I don’t want to bore you any longer with the mundane details of my Thanksgivings but to point out that change is good. The only time in my life where I still have yet to view it as “good” or having some sort of “reason” is the day my mother passed away but I have accepted that I may never see that as such.

The day my mama passed, I made a comment to everyone that I didn’t want to live any longer in a world where she didn’t exist, that I would have given anything, including my own life, to have my mama back. My brother later pulled me aside, pointing out that this was an insensitive comment to be making in front of the man that I “supposedly” wanted to spend the rest of my life with, David. I understood his point at the time though now, I still feel as if I would give anything. I want to live but I would give anything, including my own life, to have my mama back. I suppose even though I understood his point, it didn’t mean that my feelings changed and now they’re even more affirmative since David is no longer a part of my life.

The holidays stir up so many mixed emotions within me. I used to look forward to this time of year and a small part of me still does but the larger part of me wants to sleep away the last couple months of the years. It’s just not the same anymore. Knowing my mama was thousands of miles away, carving a turkey in a suburb of Kansas City was enough. Knowing she was sitting around my grandma’s dining table, cracking jokes about country music and sharing her opinion on the state of America’s security was enough. Nowadays and the holidays that follow, I presume, will never feel like enough. How does one ever accept this? How does one avoid the simultaneous depression?

While I’m at it, I’d like to share one of my deepest fears – I vowed my life, my love, my holidays to one man at one point in my life four and a half years ago – Once that vow was broken, not only did I lose him, I also lost another family, his family. I fear becoming that close to someone again, sharing such sacred, personal space and relationships and having it all just taken away in the end.

I know I cannot live my life burdened by this fear but I can talk about it – the loss. Losing is painful, utterly painful. I’ve said before how losing someone to life is often more painful than losing someone to death because losing someone in life is a choice whereas death is out of our control.

Losing someone to life presents all sorts of feelings of “not good enough,” “not enough,” and “just not enough.” And no matter how rational one becomes or mentally secure, loss is painful. It’s mentally, emotionally and at times, physically painful.  Even the effort that goes into trying to convey the pain is painful, in and of itself, because words can never begin to express or describe this missing puzzle piece, this gaping, black hole in my heart, in my life.

I’m finding myself closer and closer to someone, experiencing overwhelming feelings of love and caring I have never experienced before, even with David, even during our marriage. These feelings scare me shitless and not turning around and running aimlessly in the other direction is a daily battle that takes place mostly in my mind. It’s very lonely up here. I cannot destroy something wonderful because that would, frankly, be too easy. I refuse to take the easy way out!

*Sigh* time will tell, I suppose but in the meantime, I appreciate you listening to my inner most workings. I know I’m not alone in this and for that, I am grateful. I’m also grateful for the kitty cat that’s curled up in my lap, keeping me warm and the amazing friends I am blessed to call my family. Happy Thanksgiving y’all and much love.


Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.

My solo nights frequently consist of excessive activity of the mind, involving my mother’s untimely absence and the ceaseless longing to speak with her. I mull over the details of my days, politics, gender issues, race inequality, economics, you name it, there is something within every subject that I find the desire to chew over with my mama, to gain some of her poignant wisdom albeit good enough just to hear her voice.

The inability to do so more often than not leads to an overwhelming sensation of loneliness and this loneliness has a tendency to manifest itself into a physical and emotional need due to the manner in which I react. The needy feelings turn into anxiety and the anxiety into anger. Thus, a sad, sleepless night ensues – That, or a sweat-induced, nightmare plaguing eight hours. The anger stems from an inner battle where I chastise myself for having these “weak” moments to begin with.

Recently, I have been feeling guilty for not missing my dad more when something actually triggers those feelings within me and that is followed by the reality that I’ll never get to know him the way I could if he was still around. Growing up has come with some great understanding and maturity accompanied by a very open mind that becomes more open by the day. I am certain my dad and I could have had a better relationship if he were still around to know this me – this Lindsay – that is much more wise, slightly less angry and deeply empathetic.

In addition, I am having a difficult time accepting that no one is capable of unconditional love for another human being aside from their own offspring, the kind of love my mother showed me that has sorely lacked for the past three years of my life since her death. I don’t know if it’s naiveté but I guess I always assumed that everyone loved the way my mama loved. I suppose I assumed she loved my dad like that, too, even after their divorce. I still believe in unconditional love but I wonder if it’ll make more sense if I ever have my own children. Until then, I suppose I’m doomed for a life of disappointment where matters of the heart are concerned.

It’s actually painful. You wouldn’t think that harboring so much love for another human being would feel this immensely heartbreaking. But when one cannot express this love, cannot show this love, cannot give this love, it is incredibly agonizing. Because not only does it mean one is overflowing with insurmountable, awesome love, one is not receiving that love in return.

There’s nowhere to aim or place these emotions so it just wades and waits inside of me, wishing, hoping, longing for the day it has direction, for the day it meets its match. You might think someone like me would just give up, stop trying but if there is anything that completely goes against my nature, it is giving up on loving. I have an innate need to love. The always mentioned idealistic part of me believes it is everyone’s inherent need but some are “good” at giving up, at placing such overwhelming feelings on the backburner.

I suppose you could say it is more important for me to love and love and love regardless of sincere reciprocation or lack thereof. And here’s the part where I give myself some big, fucking credit, which is rare (drumroll, please…) I believe that this ability to continue loving despite all of the disappointment and the anguish and pain inflicted by others and by loss, is a superhuman strength. In fact, I believe it to be my greatest strength and that which fuels so much of my self – the self that keeps putting one foot in front of the other. Can’t stop, won’t stop – loving.

FOLLOW UP 2 years later

I Would Walk Five Hundred Miles

I’d swim a river or two just to get to the next one,” the local bartender candidly proclaimed, referring to his desire to experience his next all-consuming love. We had gone from talking about his precious husky he had to lay to rest awhile back to the perilous yet worthy richness of having someone to love and to be loved.

His words were like coming up for air after deep sea diving; they were refreshing and unexpected. I often find myself alone in these sentiments save for a few close friends, mostly female. To hear a grown man state his urgency and longing to be in the arms of the next person he is meant to love made me feel a little less alone in this mind of mine that all too often feels like a desert.

Experience has hardened my edges a bit, creating a slightly cynical faith in humankind. I like to believe there is more good than evil, more polite than rude, more intelligent than dumb, more open minds than closed ones and while we’re at it, more liberal than conservative. Unfortunately, I often find myself doubting all of the above and then some.

Having unforeseen conversations with complete strangers like the one above considerably reinstates my, admittedly idealistic convictions. Being wealthy has nothing to do with bank accounts but with the amount of people we consistently give of ourselves to, the ones we love. Love truly does make the world go ‘round. Without it, life would solely be a bitch as the old adage goes. I believe that everyone – man, woman and child not only wants to love and to be loved but inherently needs this. I endeavor to believe that, in the end, we would all swim a river or two to drown ourselves in the revelry of the greatest blessing life has to offer, love.

This is going to be Hard

A few of my mother’s last words frequently replay in my mind followed by what resembles being punched in the gut and the wind being knocked out of me.

This is going to be hard,” she managed to utter those six, mostly single syllable English words heard and utilized in millions of day-to-day conversation.

This is going to be hard – Those words couldn’t ring truer and at the same time, they couldn’t begin to suffice. Those words embody everything from a single second memory to a half recalled dream to an observation of mother with child to the holidays that creep up on us like an unexpected spine-tingling draft during a Los Angeles fall evening. They have no semblance of time nor of space and even their perhaps, more impactful synonyms: difficult, trying, troubling, challenging, incomprehensible do not begin to illustrate the reality.

Those words, this is going to be hard, transport me back to the dull sound of an oxygen tank, the stench of stale air recycled and cooled by the hum of an old window box air conditioner and the agonizing visual of my mother’s weakened body that was no longer physically able to fight a cancer that swiftly began attacking all of her organs including her skeletal system. This is going to be hard doesn’t even begin to fathom the mental and physical pain that she certainly endured for the eight months between her diagnosis to her death.

It actually gets old, ya know – this feeling of “hard,” of what many easily cast off as “life.” It gets so old I often push it back, cover it up, and tuck it away, anything to not have to “deal with it.” I’ve gotten so good at it these past three years that it’s almost like I harbor my very own life-saving light switch. It truly feels like finding a life vest in the middle of a shark-infested ocean with no sight of land or raft.

My therapist recently told me that she believes I am finally allowing how much I miss my mother not to be pushed back, covered up or tucked away, that, in other words, I’m allowing myself to grieve more. Some consider this is a “good” thing. I think this is a “hard” thing. It’s no longer going to be hard. It is hard.