passing

once they removed their monstrous

parasols and offered the sun with all its

glory, I was able to see for miles,

see past the stains and all its gory.

walk past my long-limbed friends,

feel their gentle boughs crack upon me

and

wonder if that west window still

offers the view of diamonds and trees.

then without time to think, to blink,

they decide my time in the warmth

is done. parade their parasols atop

of me – flaunt like they won. close my

eyes quick and capture the burn, bid

the orange blaze to stain my gaze for days

and

weep over how much I’ll miss the sun.

 

 

 

interlude

this must be what the seas of Greece look like, 

so blue it looks white 

the water so deceiving 

this must be what normal feels like, 

so chill it’s like sleep

the peace I hear it leaving 

this must be what perfection tastes like, 

so fake it seems real 

the day it leaves me grieving  

uncomfortably

I felt the friction like a cat’s tongue

hesitating to taste what’s on my finger 

cooed sweet baby words in its ear 

to get him to linger 

drove under the dopey gray clouds

so tired from the day 

and told big happy lies to myself 

begging the sunshine to stay 

rather

I want to tell you a story about a girl and the sea 

but no matter how I begin it 

I end up talking about him and me 

and I’m brought back to that February day

where it ended – my time spent alone with him 

and yet he cries cause he misses it 

and every harmonic makes me think of death 

how he punched until I had no breath left 

and how much energy it took to whimper the word 

STOP

I’d rather talk about how I held my breath watching

you disappear into the waves

 talk about how you plucked the ivory treasures from the floor

those endless sandy walks finding the sea glass you adore 

marvel that you really are so brave 

 instead of feeling like he’s marching me to my grave

I want to tell you a story about a girl and the sea 

but no matter how I begin it

I always end up talking about him and me 

 

sudden

it wasn’t the look of confusion you saw in her eyes

it was the look of fear

for even the cattle know when death is coming for them

much like those hyenas at my door again

coming to torment me, even though

I left them a feast at the table

patrol about and contort their ravaged mouths

causing me to flee, much like when I run

from him when he turns savage

but this time I remain, to open the door

to his frantic moans and pained eyes

whisper to calm my heart while his brain loses control

seize him into my mending arms until his terror has passed

then kick the hyenas aside

to walk my son back to his dreams

 

stay

I don’t have long to spend with you – but we have those spirits

passing through our house again.  I feel them, he feels them.

I’d think you’d feel them if you were open to it.

I don’t need to tell you that last week was rough.  

I saw red and heard the bees in my ears –

my world went numb again, but he doesn’t care, 

and I’m left blue and scared.

I don’t have long to tell you – I’m grateful that you’re here.

you let me run out, even in the dark of night,

 when I see his pale face and hear his sighs.  

you help me ignore all the frogs as I try to drive down the street,

watch them bounce off my wheels, but I don’t stop.

I keep on going, keep on remaining

much like the shadows that play in our house,

and I’m gently reminded that those souls must be

welcomed here.  they have lived Sufferer’s torment more, 

they are tired of living in fear.

privy

She told me in confidence that she thought she gave birth to a beast. She looked around the room to make sure that we were alone. Her eyes darted down and she whispered it, “a monster. The odd thing is that his birth had been so peaceful that January evening with the air so quiet you could hear the falling snow. In the peaceful, dim-lit room with hushed voices late at night, he just slipped out. He just slipped out.  

She told me that when he was born he looked like a little alien. He hardly slept for 2 years and his hunger was insatiable. When he cried her heart would race, and her eardrums would go numb. She would catch him staring in his crib at things she could not see. Stare so long, his eyes would drip water like a faucet. But he would twirl her hair when she nursed him, and she would feel the softness of his cheek so intently she’d fall in love with him all over again. She’d forgive him for all those sleepless nights and all those staring fits that would leave him unsettled and clingy.

She told me that after he became adorable, he finally learned to walk. He walked a little late. He took to the habit of running from things that weren’t there and he would fall and scream into her bosom. He would look up at the ceiling with a face of horror until Zonegran stopped the infantile spasms. He said his fan blades were covered with blood. He would see pizza on the walls and see shadows move without any light. And when they were trying to be good Catholics, he would tell her that the inside of their church smelled like old people’s burning flesh. But he looked so cute when he played on his wooden airplane. And when he wore his adorable baby blue sweater with the puppy on it, she’d fall in love with him all over again. She’d try to forget all the odd images he put in her head and those strange things he whispered in her ear. She tried to forget her anxiety over all the tests he had and the medications he tried. She’d try to crush the panic that would walk into her room in the middle of night.

She told me that when school started he had a hard time paying attention, hit the teachers, and would play chase without permission. He would cry before school would start, and his dad would have to carry him to the car while he put up a fight. But he would draw her pictures and write, I love you Mommy. He’d ask so sweetly, “do you want a hug?” She’d  fall in love with him all over again. She’d forgive all those meetings she had at the school and tried not to grow jaded when explaining his situation. She was always explaining the situation.

She told me about a day in March, a few years past, when she received a call from the teacher to pick up her son early from school. She walked tall into his special classroom and apologized for the massive amounts books and chairs strewn all over the room. Really, he knows better,” she’d say. She walked out of the building, her son’s hand in hers and made it to her car before she collapsed to cry. She cried for 2 straight hours and couldn’t even make dinner, she was too full of sorrow.

She told me that he could dream of the future and have night terrors that haunted him for weeks. He’d get up at bizarre hours of the night to gather and cut up his clothes. He’d sprinkle cinnamon all over the house 2 days before Christmas because he liked the smell.  And dump baby powder all over his room because he said, “I miss the snow.” She looked surprisingly good for being awake all this time.

She told me that although he is growing up into a beautiful young man, he is taller than her now and in some ways smarter than her. But he’s moody and sad, happy and mad. Up and down he goes, round and round he goes. He’s always able to lure her into his trap. He can even catch her eyebrow twitch and it seems that he can read her mind before she speaks. He’s always inches from her and circling around her. Pecking at her, laughing at her, chasing her, and clawing at her. Unfathomable that this was the same human being that had just slipped out so effortlessly into the world.

She told me with a pensive tone that her entire being was filled with fright and even her soul, her aching soul, mourned for it to be over. And she felt betrayed because she asked me, “isn’t your soul supposed to be stronger?” Traitor, she’d call it. She said she felt empty and blank. She’d ask, “how much can one vessel hold?” And with every night that she went to bed thinking she was spent, she’d wake up and have to start it all over again.  Each and every night, each and every day. She then told me that when the best place in the nation said, “your son is a candidate for our inpatient program,” she was surprised to be struck with grief instead of relief.

A few moments passed, and then she just stopped. She wiped her cheek and told me in confidence that she wanted to tempt fate in a sea of aqua glass. Feel the wind rush past her face. Witness the brown clouds get taken over by the foam. Tease the pull toward the moon and float. Revel in that and not talk about home.

 

madness

 Does it mean I love you any less,

 if I want to keep the best of you,

 but want to change the rest?    

 

I don’t know why I’m feeling the way I do.  The way I was last night, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t right.  But he started up again; wanting this, wanting that.  Throwing this, throwing that.  He took my phone and jammed it into his wall.  The glass is shattered, I can barely make a call.  I tried to keep him in his room as you were moving his wooden toy toaster and his broom.  Removing scissors, long objects, and most anything that he could turn into a weapon.  We, unfortunately, know that part too well.  I kept him in his room as long as I could, but I let him run out, thinking that it would help calm him.  He said he was calmer anyway.  What a good storyteller he is.  Off to the sitting room he went, to put holes in the walls.  I tried for ten minutes, but I wasn’t able to block them all.  Out he ran, he said his blood sugar felt low – 

Ok, I’ll test you – let’s calm down, let’s go…”

He tried to go into your room – to put holes in the wall…he said. 

My voice got louder, my face burned with confusion, exhaustion –

Please calm down.  Please go to your room and calm down.”  Please, over and over again.

He punched my arms harder.  I grabbed his arms just to stop the pain, and you thought I took it too far. 

Mom, give him space – let’s have space!”  You repeated yourself louder and he felt more rage.  I ignored you, concentrating on your brother, but I saw his wrath boil into a crimson fury.  He was on fire and he kicked four new holes into our walls – big ones too, it was what I didn’t want him to do.  I felt warmth escape my ears – I thought…

Why does it seem nobody can hear?”

I collapsed to the ground and grabbed my head with my trembling hands and I wailed a scream I didn’t know I had.  I became primal for about five seconds.  I lost my sense for a fraction of time, I lost my wit – I witnessed my soul escape and enter again.  My vocal chords instantly felt ripped apart; very fitting, they matched my heart.  Something happened, something clicked.  I’m one step closer to feeling insane.  One step closer to losing my mind.  It’s all so very unfortunate.  

This above incident happened August 10, 2017, and it left me at odds with my youngest daughter for about two days.  I felt decimated – perhaps even betrayed a little.  I got over it – but I guess that’s what mental illness can do.  It can turn loved ones against each other in the swirls of madness, in the twisting of insanity.  Prompt loved ones to turn into frozen statues paralyzed with fear to only thaw out long enough to survive.  That’s what we’re doing now, surviving.

These past two years have been really trying but something about these past few months have been especially sinister.  His punches are harder, the damage is greater, and his thoughts are more tortuous.  Is it the Abilify?  Is it the antidepressant?  Is it too much Abilify?  Does he need a new seizure med?  Who knows anymore.

I remember when a trial of Seroquel turned him into a demonic giant with powers that terrorized us day and night.  Night and day.  Two weeks of pure hell and the games got sicker when I had to increase it.

We need more time to see if it will work,”  the doctors would say.

I would nervously laugh, and think, “I pray we have more time.”  It was just my youngest daughter, about 16 at the time, and I during five days of the roughest part of the med trial. My oldest daughter and husband were on a school trip to Paris.  My Mom, who was staying with us at the time, went back to Missouri to help out my sister and her family.

My daughter and I would wake up to battles and the ritualistic dismantling of our house.  I would stand at his doorway during an event to lessen most of his tornadic activity that could happen to the main part of the house.  But most of his torment landed on various areas of my already bruised body.  I would put on an old winter jacket that my husband used to wear and put on heavy utility gloves, but it offered only a bit of protection.  I became the guard and he became the beast – with foam dripping out of his mouth, and my brain would have to recover from all the horrific words he shouted.

The longest event on one particular bad day lasted a little over an hour.  It was one of the five or six events per day he would have during this Seroquel trial.  My heart raced and I would feel like I ran a marathon after each event.  Between episodes I would put ice packs on my arms and maybe even my face, rest, and pop Motrin like candy.  My daughter would ask if I was okay, but her eyes had already been stained with his violence.  There’d be no turning back.

We’d have a little reprieve where he’d act more “normal” and we’d take a walk or play a game, but we didn’t venture out during this time.  We’d eat our meals between violent events and act as if nothing had ever happened.  He’d say he loved me and I’d respond back with an, “I love you too.”  Most always an event would happen before bedtime and then he’d collapse into bed, praise the Lord.  Once he was asleep, we would assess the damage of the day and clean up accordingly.  Put home decor back on their resting shelves, move end tables, and place remotes back to their original, eager location.

During this time, when he was asleep, the house was unnaturally quiet and appeared unshaken.  My daughter and I would get our pajamas on, fix a snack, and fall on the couch.  After a console session and a good cry, we’d  put on a movie and zone out.  Escape to a different world where we weren’t hurt, bullied, or terrorized.

Around midnight, we’d say goodnight, crawl into our beds, and pray for a better day to be waiting for us.  We’d close our eyes and let the stillness lead us into calm waters.  We would either dream of old ladies whispering hush or bloody mouthed wolves that chased.  There was no in-between.  It was madness.