Posts Tagged ‘death’

“There are many more layers to innocence than one might ever imagine, and we are ever unaware of them until each barrier is breached.”― Paula ReedHester: The Missing Years of the The Scarlet Letter……..

Night Wind, graphite on paper A4, (8x10)…...

Night Wind, graphite on paper A4, (8×10)……

Part of the story, an aside……..

My brother, Number 5 (with me being number 1) of my siblings, lived in Houma with his Cajun princess bride. All of us had chipped in and made their wedding possible in the house in New Orleans. Only my aunt and myself were happy for him and his beautiful bride. The rest of my siblings, including Capitán, thought they could have picked someone better for him. There was great and inappropriate hatred expressed by sisters number 2, 3 and 6 that made the bride cry. It was both a happy and sad day.

So when my sister (number 6) came to New Orleans to stir the pot of evil with my aunt, her long fingers reached out to my brother. Unbeknown to her case manager she was mingling and meeting with the local drug lords and even some who had ventured from Miami to take advantage of her semi freedom. I saw her with these burly types who reeked of darkness; and when she involved my innocent and emotionally slow brother I felt she had gone too far and stepped forward. I tried to tell her case manager who laughed at me. I even called the local FBI to report her but her case manager had already notified her and she had contacted Capitán who was now in town, who told the FBI that I was jealous and trying to defame my poor sister in order to keep all the family money…. and they believed him and told me not to bother them again. (My family in New New Orleans did have some very powerful and corrupt contacts.)

So the evilness of it all began to take shape as my sister began to ply my brother with drugs and convince him to leave his wife and children and go back to Ecuador into the loving (?) arms of Capitán, the man who had emotionally tortured and abused him as a child.

When Michael called me and asked me what he should do, I immediately called sister #2 in Ecuador to ask what the devil was going on and why. My sister responded, ” You are not considered a member of this family and what we do is none of your business. If we need your help, someone will contact you and tell you what to do.”

Like hell they will, I told her…her need to dominate and control everything had just gone too far. “Remember”, I said, “when we were children and if we did not do what you wanted us to do you would tell us “do not speak to me further, you are dead in my eyes”? Well my dear sister, please consider yourself dead in MY eyes.”

I did what I could but one day Michael was gone and his wife called me in tears. There was nothing I could do. In his innocence he could not defend against all the lies they told him and once back in Ecuador, they took his passport and his life became misery as they tried to make him into something he could not be. It took him nearly 3 years to escape and return to his wife and children, but he was changed, his wife was changed, so much damage had been done that could not be reversed.

Although I stayed in touch with my sister-in-law during his absence and did what I could to help her, I did not see my brother again for many years. By that time I had disowned all my family and although I loved him dearly I could not keep contact with him for fear the family would use him to get to me, he never could understand that I was trying to protect him. We would both hug each other and cry.

It would be many more years later I would get a call; from sister #2 saying “Michael is near death and demands to talk to you.”

I said my tearful goodbyes and told him how much he was loved. I would only later learn from a stray conversation, that he was divorced and had stage 4-lung cancer.

I spoke to my sister-in-law once once a few years later when my mother died, but it was only a casual conversation about Michael’s share of the inheritance and since my mother had basically disinherited me, I could not answer any of her questions; I could only advise her to contact the attorney in charge of the estate.

I often wondered what happens when all the barriers to innocence are breached, do we take the remaining shards and try to hold onto the illusion of what we once held to be true? Or do we rebuild a new illusion that allows us to carry on as we discard the shroud that once tried to devour our souls?

What does happen to the dreamer when there are no more dreams?

“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

Yellow Feather (2001), oil on canvas, 77x102 cm (30x40)

Yellow Feather (2001), oil on canvas, 77×102 cm (30×40) —

An aside to the story…….

On September 30, 2013,  a moment expanded. I was rushed to the emergency room, ashen colored, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing with pain in my lower lungs.  They thought it was a heart attack. They ran every test. They sent me home saying nothing was wrong probably just stress.

Four days later I was back in the emergency room, the pain increasing, the breathing more difficult.  They ran even more test.  They concluded I must have had a Copd flare, even though I did not have Copd.  They gave me a steroid inhaler and sent me home.

That was on a Monday, I went back to work and by Friday I could barely walk 10 feet without gasping for breath, by Sunday the pain was intense, I was panting continuously with every movement. The morning of Monday, October 9th I knew something was very, very, wrong and went back to the emergency room.

As they checked me in, my blood pressure dropped dramatically and my lungs started to collapse.  For the first time in my life I was frightened. Frightened because I did not know what was happening, only that people were swarming all over me, working to keep me alive.

Ten hours later, now stabilized, I was admitted to the acute care wing of the hospital.  There I stayed for the next 8 days.  It took another 6 weeks to recover.  I had pneumonia coupled with acute pleurisy. The pain in my lungs was caused by the air sacs collapsing; I was having trouble breathing because my lungs were filled with fluid.

The fact that I almost died gave me pause and I noticeably changed.

All of us are in a constant state of change. Every word, every action, every incident we experience changes us in some form or another.  We are not the person we were yesterday nor are we the person we will be tomorrow.  Seldom are we aware of what is transpiring so caught up we are in our own lives.

What triggered my change and my awareness was not so much that I almost died but because in the all time I was gone from work, off line, incommunicado, no one called or wrote or e-mailed to see if I was OK or ask: where are you?  Of all the people I know, of all those I communicate generally by e-mail or online daily, no one in that week, or the next, questioned my silence.

When I did go online to Facebook, before I updated my status, I saw there was one message waiting for me from a friend I had never met in France, asking how are you, where are you? I stood corrected, there was one person who cared. It made me smile. It also made me aware how very insignificant my life had become to others. How very shallow all our lives had become.

So I laughed, and I laughed, I shook my head, and said to the universe: thank you for that extended moment in time, thank you for the awareness, now lets get to work on what is really important.

Not sure what that is but I know the others out there are no longer very important to me, what I do from this point forward is focused on what is good for me and improving my quality of life so that when the important stuff does come sometime before I die, I will be ready.

You may think that is selfish. Perhaps it is, perhaps for the very first time in my life I care more about me than other people.  Unheard of for an Aquarian! Perhaps it will only last for a short while, perhaps forever but my light is shinning so very bright right now it’s almost blinding.

Whatever I am moving towards I travel slowly, steadily, quietly with a smile caught in a new extended moment of time filled with joy.

That is not too shabby.

 

“May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. 
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.” Irish blessing

©2003- Beginnings-graphite on paper, 25x30 cm (10x12)

©2003- Beginnings-graphite on paper, 25×30 cm (10×12)

An Aside to the Story…….

 

We all reach an age when life begins to take away those things that were given without pause, and certain memories tend to surface as a reminder of how very generous life was in those days. Touching on the major events that propelled me forward does not even begin to touch the incredible amount of people, events and things that transpired in the spaces in between, things that truly added shape and definition to my being.  Each one of us has a myriad of stories to fill those spaces, stories of who, what, where and how, all birthing, living, dying, being constantly replaced and renewed guiding us on this journey.

My return to Houston opened many doors for me as well as for Garry. He always had a magic touch and could pick a mean 12-string guitar and even meaner banjo. So a band was formed and achieved great popularity in the clubs on the Landing. They drew enough attention that the Playboy Club offered a contract to play the grand tour of its Clubs. However, fame and fortune do have a price and within 6 months the band had spit and Garry returned to Houston.

Coming back, Garry resumed tenancy in his old apartment, which was just below mine. It was at his welcome home party he met my roommate Kathleen and they immediately fell in love.  She was tall, very slender and Irish to the core. Raven hair with freckles splattered across her face. Dancing green eyes and a contagious bell-like laughter completed her persona. She also had that bit of magic. The kind that makes heads turn and people smile. Kathleen was a professional model working at Neiman Marcus, earned a good living and had a very bright future.

She was grace, beauty, and intelligence; everything I thought I was not.  We formed a quick, fast friendship in which we shared everything, or so I thought. We had been roommates for nearly a year but within Kathleen’s bright exterior she held a deep, dark secret, one she hid very well and could not share.

I came home late one night from work and found her lying in a pool of blood on the floor. She was breathing shallowly, her wrists slashed. I called 911 and they talked me though keeping her alive until the ambulance arrived. I stayed with her all that night and the next day when she regained consciousness.

The first thing she said to me was “You bitch, if you were really my friend, you would have let me die! Get out of my life!”

I had notified Garry the previous evening and he arrived at the hospital that morning, spent time with her and then took me back home were we packed up her things. He had already contacted her family, she would be going back to New York; they were coming to get her.

I did not go back to the hospital, but heard that her family arrived the next day, but only to collect her corpse. While in the hospital she managed to open her wrist again and succeeded in leaving this mortal plain.

We talked about Kathleen a few times, neither of us understanding the whys of the events that transpired, only that she was someone special we had both grown to love, someone who touched our lives deeply and would always be remembered. Her death marked an awakening to the changing times. The 70’s were upon us, and Garry finally having enough of city life moved to the Hill Country.  Our paths would not cross again for many, many years.  I found a new apartment closer to my work and never had another roommate.

It was events like this where I would realize time and again, just how very small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of life.  Major, devastating and life-changing personal events are just clogs in the ever grinding wheel of fortune.  Funny how life just goes on, no matter what happens, all of us just ripples in an eternal pond.