Tag Archives: Family

Russian Dolls

 

She was using the circular saw, and she got distracted. It cut deep into her hand.

She watched it sinking into her skin and raised the saw free before she ever felt anything. Then the pain found her, searing the nerves from her hand to her elbow. She curled up reflexively around the wound and tried not to faint while drops of blood plip-plipped on the garage floor. After a full minute, she regained her equilibrium enough to move. The damaged half of her hand had already drained into an alarming shade of pale.

The hospital. They had to go to the hospital.

She went inside, wrapped her hand tightly in a dishcloth to keep the blood in, and called to her son.

“Alex!” Her voice trembled.

Normally he might have called back, but her uncharacteristic tone sent him running down the stairs. He saw her bloody, limp hand and almost gagged.

“Alex, I need you to drive me to the hospital.”

“God, mom. God. Let’s call an ambulance.”

“No… too expensive. I need you to drive me there.”

“Money doesn’t matter! Your hand matters! What if you pass out? What if I crash?”

She understood his lack of confidence. Alex only had his permit. But she wasn’t worried. “You’re a good driver, Alex. It’ll be fine. We’re going now.”

Her parental authority won out. He got the keys as she struggled into the passenger seat of the car. Her hand throbbed magnificently… at least, the parts she could still feel. The part of her hand above the pinky and ring fingers was so deeply severed, there were no connected nerves remaining. She couldn’t move them at all. Funny how she hadn’t even noticed the damage she was doing until it was this deep.

 

They waited for a long time before the doctor came in. He looked at her hand, cleaned it up, and declared that her fingers would have a fifty percent chance of functionality after surgery. The odds of them still working after healing on its own? Only ten percent.

“What will surgery cost?” She said.

“Tough to estimate,” the doctor said. “At minimum, several thousand dollars. But your insurance will help with that. The receptionist can get you started on paperwork and give you an actual estimate.”

“Right,” she said. She looked at Alex, who already knew what she was thinking. He shook his head at her fiercely.

“Thank you, doctor,” she said formally.

When the doctor left the room, she got off the table, fought back a wave of nausea, and headed for the door. Alex boldly intercepted, blocking her exit. Sometimes she forgot how tall he was getting.

“Mom! Don’t you dare.”

He sounded so much like her. She would have laughed if she’d had the strength.

“It costs too much,” she said firmly.

“It doesn’t matter,” he retorted.

“Just take me home,” she said. “He said it might heal on its own.”

“No way.”

“And if it doesn’t, I don’t need those fingers anyway. I’ve got others.”

“You’ll stay here and get treatment!” He said, fists clenched in frustration.

She looked at her hand. It was already prematurely aged from worry. Now it was a ghoulish rainbow of mottled purple, sickly blue, weak white, screaming red. No good colors there. She looked at Alex, his rich chestnut hair and intelligent brown eyes. 

She had grown up poor. The constant worry of her childhood, the deprivation her family endured, were bitter memories. He would have everything she never had. All the money she scraped together was going into his college fund. There was no way she was going to send him into adulthood saddled with debt and the weight of a poverty mentality. She was willing to sacrifice a couple of fingers for that. For him.

“We’re going,” she said. She gingerly made her way past him and through the door, leaving him no choice but to follow.

“God damn it mom,” he said. He was trying not to cry. “Why won’t you just let them help you?”

“Language,” she chided gently.

 

That night, after putting his mom to a fitful sleep with a freshly bandaged hand, Alex lay down in his own bed, but his eyes would not close. A throbbing headache expanded in his right temple, pressuring the backs of his eyeballs, forcing neon geometry across his vision of the dark ceiling.

He got up, went to the bathroom medicine cabinet, and pulled out a bottle of painkillers. It was light in his hand, nearly empty. He often got headaches like this. These pills had become a comfortable friend to him.

How much did a bottle like this cost, again?

He sighed, ran his thumb longingly over the cap, then put the bottle back. If Mom could take that, he could take this. Money was too tight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled

 

You who have always been there
My first and last loves.
You have seen what I have seen
Struggled what I have struggled
Felt my pain, lost my loss.
You balance me.
Anything I can’t do, you take the task from me
And I will do the same for you.
You see the future I see
Before and behind us are parallel paths
With enough deviations
To give us something to talk about.
And we talk. And talk.
I could spend days locked with you in a small room
And come out smiling.
We share humor. We share darkness.
We oppose one another
Only when we feel the other needs correcting
We lovingly correct one another
Delivering the hard truths.
When you’re here, I am the most myself
When you’re gone, I am writ lowercase.
You fill in the gaps.
Without you,
I am halved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Family gossip

 

They turned over and over again
In their conversation
What exactly was wrong
With their less successful, more flawed family
(the ones not present)
They discussed why and how
But mostly what.
All the things they were doing wrong
All the choices they were making wrong.
Implicitly entrenching their own identities
As the socially accepted
Correct ones
The ones who make the right choices
The ones who know what to do
The ones who are
Better at least
Than these other ones.
Pity is their imagined superiority.
Anger is where they were bruised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Journal – the best compliments

I realized I’ve been hiding my real writings recently.  Oops, bad Sarah. No secrets. Be open.

It sure was comfortable while it lasted, haha.

 

Something nice to muse upon… what is the best compliment you ever received?

 


I was watching old home movies
I saw mom laughing again
The elegance in her hands
Her purity

Kid me came up to her with the camera
I said, “What are your thoughts on life?”
“I’m for it,” she quipped.
“What are your thoughts on death?”
“Also for it.”
Her philosophy would be tested and proved
later in life,
later in death.
She may not have known this word for it,
But she was very Tao.

I always saw mom in me
Her philosophical side,
Her creativity
Her crazies
Her acceptance.

The best compliment I ever received
Was from friends who never really knew mom
They told me I was just like Dad.
Something I had never considered before.
But once I did I knew it was true.

I got his outrageous side,
His caring
His extroversion
His stoicism
His sense of humor.

Both were nonconformist
Both were strong
Both were smart
Both were brave
Both were loving.

I am lucky, so lucky
To have had such parents
I am lucky to have a family
Bound tightly together in common tragedy
I know true tribalism
It’s wonderful
To know who you are
To have a place
To have a role.

Everyone has ever been so good to me
As good as they knew how
They have taught me how to be good to others
Some lessons better than others
I am grateful for everyone
I try to deserve what I have
But not too hard.
Trying too hard to deserve something
Makes you deserve it less,
grow unbalanced.
I must love me
If I am to love others.
Odd that being in the presence of my heroes
Should make me feel so small
We spend our time
Building each other up
And I always leave
Feeling smaller
Undeserving
These people are my people
My family
I love them unconditionally
And they me
I just have to love myself
Unconditionally.

The cat gave me a compliment today.
She waited outside the shower for half an hour
I take long showers
And when I came out
She purred, happy to see me
Rubbed against my wet leg
Knowing she would get wet
Deciding it was worth it.

My sister tells me to come visit.
I say, I have a nasty cold.
She says, then I’ll make you soup.
The joy of my visit outweighs
The physical discomfort I bring.

Love should not be measured in sacrifice.
The pleasure should outweigh the pain
By a grand margin.
However, it can be a small proof
Here and there
Little heartwarming gestures.
Someone gives you roses
You know they gave up some time and money for them.
Someone gives you food
They made just for you.
Someone reads your blog
Every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Journal – On Overcoming Fears

 

When I was a kid

I was afraid of the dark.

I used to make myself walk down the hallways in the dead of night

With the lights off

Just to prove … I don’t remember what

Maybe it was pride.

Maybe I despised my own cowardice.

So I just looked at the light switch

Then stared down the demons in the dark.

 

I hadn’t gone to the dentist in eight years

A lost filling finally drove me to the waiting room

Where I sat, my stomach knotty with fear.

After that I kept up with my dentist visits

Through crowns and drills and fillings lost and gained

And stainless steel needles the size of Montana

Culminating in my most recent visit

A small filling restored with,

By my own request,

No numbing agent.

I found it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Now when I go, I marvel

At my lack of fear.

 

I never allowed myself the luxury of feelings

Afraid that they would hurt others.

This has been the worst fear to overcome.

I have progressed from exploring my emotions,

To writing them out,

To showing them to the world

My family

And hardest of all, my dad.

Because I loved him the most

I hid the most from him.

Protecting him from my unhappiness

Afraid he would blame himself

Or worry about me.

Today he called me

Asked if I was feeling okay

He’d read my bleak poem

And worried.

I reassured him, the poem was old.

When I hung up the phone

I wondered

At my stability in the face

Of what had just happened.

Dad had seen one of my darkest pieces.

And he had worried.

But things are different now.

I can be honest with him.

His humanity doesn’t break me.

My own humanity doesn’t break me.

The self-loathing spiral

Never came.

 

Now I have to keep posting

As if I didn’t know he was keeping up on the blog.

Or rather, I know that he is,

But I am able to be honest now.

Sometimes I want to die

Sometimes I want to stab something

But mostly I love my life

And although I still cherish my family,

I no longer idolize them,

Or feel the need to protect them.

 

I have always considered myself uncommonly lucky

In family and friends.

Today I can feel lucky

And not feel guilty too.

I can feel grief and pain

Just as easily as I can feel love.

 

But most of all,

I can feel.

 

And I feel grateful.

And I feel free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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