Firsts

Today marks one year since my Mom passed. It’s raining in my bonnie Dundee – appropriate, as it rained – a proper thunderstorm – the day my Mom died.

The year has been a hard one; I can’t believe I’m still here. It’s been a year of neuralgia and nightmares (when I’m not in the grip of insomnia) where I awaken myself screaming and crying, where I awaken my poor partner because I’ve been shouting and hitting him in my sleep. A year of forgetfulness: forgetting to feed my fish, running to the bathroom three times in the morning to put on deodorant because I can’t remember if I put any on. Talking to people and stopping because my mind has suddenly gone blank. A year of puking after eating. A year of therapy and various antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds.

It’s the news of yet another death that sends you into a total meltdown and you don’t want to think and you can’t bear what you’re feeling and you just wanna sleep so you take one pill and then another and another and a few different ones and drink some gin and your friend’s been trying to reach you for hours so you’re awakened by the sound of the police shouting your name as they bang on your living room window. “I didn’t really want to die, Officer….I just wanted my head to be quiet for awhile.”

A year of “firsts” you never wanted: the first birthday I didn’t get a card from her; the first time I couldn’t send her a card for her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas. The constant assault on my memory: making spaghetti for tea and remembering how I made spaghetti for Mom. Walking down King Street in Broughty Ferry and remembering taking Mom there when she visited Scotland and her delight in everything. The daily agony of coming home from work at the end of each day and rifling through the mail and none of the envelopes bear that familiar handwriting.

It’s fear. Not for yourself, cause you’ve become indifferent to anything that may happen to you, but fear of losing someone else you love. So you make your partner crazy: why are you coughing like that? Why are you limping – what’s that mark on your arm? It’s praying to a God you’re no longer sure you believe in to keep your brother and your sisters and everyone in your Cleveland family and Dundee family safe.

It’s trying desperately to function “normally”. Work, clean the house, cut the grass, talk to people. It’s Skyping with your best friend’s daughter and having her tell you “It’s good to see you smile, Aunty Kathy.”

“I smile,” you protest, shocked. Surely you smile …don’t you smile at people at work every day?

“It’s not the same smile,” she says. “It’s not in your eyes anymore.”

And time continues to pass, and you wake up on a rainy Saturday in Dundee and it’s been one year since your Mother squeezed your hand for the last time.

I miss you, Ma.

 

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sprawlin’ on Sunday mornin’

she’s still mostly sleep
when she feels him pull away
tightens her grip on his waist
to force him to stay

the double bed shifts
his feet hit the floor
there’s a soft snick
as he closes the bedroom door

she hugs his pillow
inhales that familiar smell
listens to the winter wind
& the sound of the first church bell

stubborn rays of sun
through closed curtains start to creep
but she’s determined
to go back to sleep

the tempting smell of coffee
wafts through the halls
she squeezes her eyes shut
& sleepily sprawls

there’s nothing she has to
do today
so she lets the next dream
pull her away

copyright © 2018 KPM

the 11-month mark

so what was dude thinkin’
safe up in His cloudy sky
when He decided the people you love
would one day hafta die?

did it not occur to Him
that some could not withstand their grief?
was He indifferent to the many
who’d now abandon all belief?

& while I’m at it, God,
what’s up with free will?
surely you must’ve known
your creations would mindlessly kill

tell me why you do it:
are you a sadist, or just odd?
I still wanna believe,
so I’m waitin’ for an answer, God

wives bereft of husbands
husbands missin’ wives
children longin’ for their mothers
endless tears for all the lost lives

nightmares & neuralgia
terminal grief & guilt
doubting all your choices
& the worth of the life you’ve built

I know I’m a sinner, Lord,
but show some mercy – take me off this rack
I swear I’ll believe again
if you’ll just give my mother back

copyright © 2018 KPM

rules for wraiths & other lost souls

no one knows you’re a ghost
your body they can’t see through
they wouldn’t believe it anyway
so there’s still stuff you hafta do

you gotta get up in the morning
get dressed, make the bed
put your smiley face on
quell the voices in your head

you gotta go to work
cause there’s always bills to pay
pretend to be a “normal” person
despite the grief that darkens each day

you must interact with people
though from society you’d rather retreat
& at certain times of day
you force yourself to eat

you’ve no need (or desire) for food
there’s no wish to dine or sup
cooking’s such a waste of time
when all you swallow comes back up

so you work & cook & clean
feed the fish & watch TV
& every show awakens guilt
from which you cannot flee

you’re a ghost of who you were
the old you has been erased
who is this crazy woman,
by memory constantly chased?

forward the time goes
marching through a winter gray
take it one step at a time
things just might turn out okay

copyright © 2018 KPM

on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve I woke up at ten past nine. And I felt pretty good, considering the fact that the first thought I had when I awakened was “it’s Christmas Eve and my Mom is not here.”

I’ve been struggling in the run up to Christmas this year. It seems unfair…it feels wrong, that Christmas should just go on when Ma is not here to enjoy it. My Mom loved Christmas. The tree, the lights, the decorations. The Nat King Cole Christmas album. She loved it when I was a kid – even now I can see the look of joy on her face as she watched me and my brother and sisters open our presents – and she loved it even more once she’d become a grandmother and then a great-grandmother.

So I decorated my wee flat the way I’ve always done, putting the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. Adorning the fireplace mantle with the red and green tinsel garland, the dancing Santa, the Christmas Eeyore, the black singing angels and the lighted Christmas village my boyfriend John surprised me with two years ago.

I hung stockings for me and John and strung fairy lights over the tops of the bookcases; I even hung fairy lights on the palm tree in my bedroom. I found a place to display every Christmas card I received…they’re in the living room, the kitchen and my wee PC closet. In the act of decorating, I hoped to bring Mom’s spirit closer to me….I hoped that from her perch in heaven – reunited with my Dad at last – she would see all the decorations and smile.

This year, my first Christmas without my mother, I have received more cards and presents than I ever have in my life. And I get it: my friends, my work colleagues, knowing that this is going to be hard for me, have showered me with the next best thing to my Mom’s unconditional love: their love.

Thank you everybody, and Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Ma. Love you….say hi to Daddy for me.

dream of me

I don’t know who said it
I don’t know if it’s true
that when you dream of someone
they’re also dreaming of you

tell me: do you dream of me,
the way I dream of you?
is love what connects us,
or am I simply feelin’ blue?

last night I dreamed of you
in darkness cold & long
I felt you clasp my hand
I smelled your scent so strong

I swear I heard your voice
whispering in my ear
did you know I needed you?
is that why I felt you near?

my thoughts these days are warped
images of death & desire
I sleepwalk through the days,
sub-conscious brain on fire

I wish I knew the reason
for these constant dreams of you
I hope you dream of me
tell me that you do

copyright © 2017 KPM

bramble boy

it’s early autumn
when he first comes
as seagulls fight
o’er cracker crumbs
her heart beats
like African drums
when she spies the bramble boy

autumn’s not
her favourite time of year
the days grow short
the skies are drear
yet she feels peace
seeing he is near
her steadfast bramble boy

leaves leap from trees
those we love die
the summer sun
deserts the sky
when the geese fly south
she wants to cry
‘til she sees the bramble boy

each September
in her garden appears
accompanied by the sound
of insectile cheers
he’ll spend the winter
quieting all her fears
her beloved bramble boy

copyright © 2017 KPM

every Thursday night

relieved to be home
where it’s warm & dry
she chains the door behind her
with a contented sigh

another workday’s passed
& she’s made it through
to another Thursday evening
with something special to do

once her cozy clothes
have been donned
she races to the kitchen
eager to crack on

hands all washed
knives assembled with care
cookbook propped open
new soup she must prepare

leeks she chops
boiling water for the stock
blender at the ready
ever mindful of the clock

the tasks she performs
are a private treasure
& she smiles as she stirs
imagining his face lit up with pleasure

copyright © 2017 KPM

autumn in the kingdom of Alba

another Friday morning
once again I open my eyes
to another spectacular
Scottish sunrise

my heart still beats
with its heavy load
yet I smile when I think
of strollin’ down Perth Road

my walk to work is soothing
daily exercise
checkin’ out the people
& the changin’ Dundee skies

a time for me to think
in the chilly mornin’ peace
a time for silent prayer
hopin’ sorrow will decrease

copyright © 2017 KPM

 

the colours of my silence

it’s comfortable
dusty black
like my favourite gardening shoes
slipped on
or kicked off
whenever I choose

shot through
with green
blades of grass from my garden
before
the winter wind
causes each blade to harden

highlights
of purple
lavender, Scottish heather
strong, hardy plants
withstanding
whatever

violent
red
that burns through the night
forever dancing
behind my eyes
when I squeeze them tight

copyright © 2017 KPM