What the Hell

“What the hell, ma?” I sit on my living room floor, at my coffee table, staring at my mother’s photo in the frame, questioning the day by day, the events and the chaos, the life that has continued on and never ceased to continue on since she took her last breath. I’ve found myself in this position many times. The “what the hell” is sometimes out of anger that she’s not here to see me through it all and sometimes, the “what the hell” is a nod to her struggles that I am now experiencing firsthand. I have found that history most certainly repeats itself. Most of the time the “what the hell” is a genuine question that I desperately wish she could verbally answer.




I’ve been experiencing some serious writer’s block since I returned from my tropical vacation at the end of May, hence why I haven’t posted anything in quite awhile. And I’m not going to lie I am still experiencing writer’s block but I’m forcing myself to write anyway. I think there’s a part of me that fears if I don’t force myself to, then I will never again – it’s a frightening thought.

I could write about the depressing fact that tomorrow is yet another Father’s Day and how I won’t be celebrating because it will be the sixth one since my dad died. I could write about how I just had surgery a week ago, fundamentally changing my future much to my passionate convictions and excitement. I could explain how difficult of a time I’ve had post op, how I’ve been running slight fevers off and on and how I’ve been losing exorbitant amounts of blood. Or I could steer this blog another route and write about the beauty that is Kauai, Hawaii and how I’ve seriously begun considering changing my lifestyle from city girl to island girl in the near future.

You see, there is a lot – there is so much going on inside of my brain and in my life right now that those three things are only the tip of the iceberg. And I just don’t know where to begin. The rumination has been quite active since my surgery and the emotional toll coupled with the blood loss has left me rather depleted. There are many other topics that I want to put on paper, very sensitive topics that I must write about with great care and precision – topics I’m not even sure if I want them to be a part of my blog or of something greater.

The inner voice asks, “What makes you think you’re sharing anything of substance? Your blog isn’t worthy of such deeply personal material.” I can’t help but laugh at her because while the self-criticism and doubt is rampant, the self-assurance is often louder and stronger. A Righteous Revival is just that – deeply personal material. I think the reason my fearful, inner incantation produces so much reservation is because she’s protecting me from willfully being utterly, painfully vulnerable.

I’ve been asking myself as of late, where do I draw the line? How much is too much? What should I save for my book and what belongs in this blog? Is there such a thing as too much? There was a time when that latter question rendered a sharp and resounding no – and I’m just not so certain presently. So, I suppose until I can gather my bearings per se, A Righteous Revival must resort to reruns like a regularly scheduled program during the summer months.

Playing with Fire, I mean Sand

I’ve built countless sandcastles with the sincere intent of using brick and mortar. I’ve sorrowfully watched all of them wash away, feeling like the reverse big, bad wolf – vigilantly huffing and puffing in a desperate attempt to keep them standing, to salvage anything because anything is something. Nothing ever remains no matter how badly I desire it to. Perhaps that is an indirect, subconscious reason why I have an intense, though manageable, fear of water.

Promises are something I’ve completely lost all faith in. I simply don’t believe in them. Maybes, possibilities, you-never-knows, perhaps – those are all concepts, “sandcastle words,” that make so much more sense in my personal existence. I’m even careful not to think too far into the future because even that is a destination in which there is no guarantee of reaching.

Life goes far beyond just being unfair – it’s downright cruel and deceiving. When good things are happening in seeming droves, I have this inherit tendency to automatically expect the rain to come and we all know – when it rains, it pours. Again, with the water.

I’ve become an expert at the art of distraction – that thing that adults do to avoid dwelling on matters that are out of their control or simply to procrastinate things that we don’t wish to take control of in the present moment. Perhaps being an expert at such things isn’t something to boast about but I can’t necessarily label it as a bad thing, either. In fact, I think it’s quite necessary at times. In my life, it’s been synonymous with “rolling with the punches” and “taking it day by day.”

The alternative is to laugh in the face of adversity – not because it’s funny or as some unusual, intimidation tactic but because life is a fucking beach in which I build sandcastles and I’ve been through my personal worst. I’m still standing and I’ll still be standing tomorrow should I be hopefully granted another day on this Earth. Sometimes, laughter is all the energy I have in me these days because with tears come, yet again, water.

If it isn’t obvious at this point, I have a lot on my mind tonight –it’s not just a single thing, person or happening but an entire slew of past, present and possible future occurrences. In addition, and this might not be as obvious, you’ll notice all those “sandcastle words” continue to come up in this post and I’ll bet if you read past posts of mine, you’ll find a plethora of them. There is nothing like laying next to death that will forever embed a sense of urgency into your mind and body and remind you of life’s only certainties.

I’m tired of playing in the sand but I’m afraid I have no choice – at least in this lifetime.

Now, listen to “Sandcastles” by Beyoncé




Hour and a Half Shy

I awoke at six-thirty like I did every Monday morning, I solemnly dressed myself and I hopped on the Manhattan bound subway en route to work. I ate breakfast and I had my coffee just like every other normal work morning. And after work, I ventured to Korea town to sample some delicious pastries from a favorite bakery among the midtown locals until finally, I arrived home to go to sleep and do it all over again the following day.

The thing about this particular day five years ago, however, was that my dad had died, taken his last breath, a mere ten hours prior to the eerie conduction of my daily routine. I couldn’t think of a better plan than to do exactly what I normally would have done if my dad was still alive, had there not just been a death within my immediate family. Or perhaps, the fact was that I wasn’t thinking about much else at all – I was just simply going through the motions.

The interesting and for lack of better words, inconvenient, thing about death is that even if it’s fairly expected, there is no guidebook that explains the aftermath with stimulus-response bullet points. It’s not like cancer, for example, I vividly recall sitting in the waiting room of the Kansas City Cancer Center reading extensive, informational “what to expect” and “how to cope” pamphlets for those diagnosed and their loved ones while my dad received radiation on his brain where a tumor, caused by the stage four lung cancer, was vigorously attacking his cerebellum. There’s a stimulus – chemotherapy can cause nausea and there’s a response – eat these types of foods to minimize the side effects of the toxicity being pumped into your veins.

I fucking get it – everyone handles death differently. No loss is the same – yada yada yada. But wouldn’t it be fucking nice to have some literature handed to you when shit like this occurs? Your father has passed away. Here is how you deal: (insert short list of socially acceptable and permanently relieving responses to the death of a parent.)

I know I sound like a sarcastic jackass but I suppose this could be deemed my socially unacceptable, temporarily relieving response to this fucking day that I have experienced every fucking April now for the past five, fucking years. And my over usage of the f-word is my momentary release of anger that motivates me to write this and to get up and go to work in the morning after my dad dies and every day after that and every year after that.

I miss him. I really do. We may not have had the best relationship by any definition of the word but I think that’s part of the reason why I miss him so goddamned much. I believe we could have had a better relationship if he’d had more time on this Earth. But time is a fucking motherfucker – it’s a mind fuck of an illusion and one of the many reasons why a day doesn’t pass where thoughts of mortality do not cross my mind, where I don’t mull over the philosophy of life and death. If nothing else, it’s certainly motivating.

I can deduce all of the above to that fucking overused, irritating cop-out of an expression: everything happens for a reason. In doing so, I can also tell you that one of the most valuable lessons I learned from it all is to never use, “There’s always tomorrow” or “This can wait” or any other variation of time-related jargon because quite frankly, there may not be a tomorrow and what are we waiting for exactly?

I wonder if my dad thought or said aloud that Sunday, April 10, 2011, “I can take care of this tomorrow.” He, unfortunately, didn’t have a tomorrow. In fact, he was about an hour and a half shy of another tomorrow.


Birthdays for the Dead

I never know how the depression is going to present itself or to what degree. Sometimes, it’s sudden and other times, it’s inexplicable and manic. One thing is for certain, it’s expected around the months of April, August and the holidays so it’s safe to say that for the past five years I feel this heaviness, this weight, pretty much a third of the entire year. And that’s not counting the other two thirds of the year when the minutest thing can send me spiraling downward into the dark abyss of grief, loneliness and sadness. It all comes down to the hard to swallow fact that living in a world without my mother has been an unwanted learning experience, one where simply not existing myself often feels more ideal than celebrating another one of her birthdays without candles that will be extinguished by her very breath.

Tomorrow, April 8th, I will wish my mother another happy birthday, the fifth to be exact, since she took her last breath. There is no guidebook for these types of things – how to celebrate the birth date of a deceased loved one – filed under the self-help section of your local bookstore. Or maybe there is? But I sure as hell don’t want to read it. And just as there isn’t sufficient guidance on how to conduct special occasions in light of death, there isn’t warning of the so-called chemical imbalance in the brain that is sure to rear its ugly head. Sure, I know what month is approaching but as I stated above, one cannot anticipate depression’s presentation, its severity or its effect. One can only ride it out, go with the flow per se.

This particular year, I have found it increasingly difficult to lift my body out of bed every single morning this week. I guarantee the people with whom I conduct my weekly routine are none the wiser. Should I applaud myself for this? Is this an accomplishment?   Let me just pause and pat myself on the back for being able to conceal my detrimental grief for eight hours a day. And if you’re not grasping the hard sarcasm in those last few sentences or sensing the exaggerated rolling of my eyes whilst I wrote it, you’re missing something.

In some ways, the daily routine aids in easing some of the tremendous sadness that has surrounded this particular month for the past five years. I’m immensely grateful I just so happen to be exceptionally busy at work this week. But nighttime inevitably comes enveloping me in its bulging, sorrowful arms and then the early morning rudely awakens me to yet another awful, unwelcome reminder, “Your mother is dead.”