Coffee, Crime, and Punishment

I dreamt all night of domestic violence and coffee. I wanted coffee so much! I kept going from place to place… Kroger, Starbucks, McDonald’s, various gas stations, diners… Everywhere I went, I was assaulted physically as soon as I asked for or tried to buy coffee. After the first few assaults, I contacted the police and they didn’t believe me. They pushed me around hard and threatened me for lying to them.

Suddenly, I was in court defending myself for “lying to the police” about being assaulted over and over. I wasn’t lying and I still had cuts and bruises all over my face and body. The judge laughed at my story. When I showed him a large (and obvious!) bloody gash on my eye, he kept saying he couldn’t see it. Same denial with the bruises on my cheeks, arms, and abdomen. Every clear and harsh cut or abrasion on my body, he kept saying wasn’t there and he was mad that his time had been wasted since I “clearly” hadn’t been assaulted. The more he pretended not to see the blaring cuts and bruises all over me and my body right in front of his face, the harder I sobbed and got hysterical and begged him to see what was right in front of him.

He put me in jail for lying about being assaulted and because I had sobbed hysterically in court so badly that even when he told me to stop, I couldn’t make the sheer hysteria stop coming out of me like a tsunami cease. The harder I tried to stop, the more hysterical my sobs got.

The last thing I recall was being in jail . In jail, I was offered coffee with my morning meal! When I eagerly and gratefully accepted the coffee, two crisp blue guards guffawed saying, “You still haven’t learned your lesson, huh?”

It finally stopped with me begging the guards not to hurt me for accepting the proffered coffee.

Death, Destruction, Denial


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I relocated February 18, 2019 to another state so I could be closer to my paternal aunt. My last living relative who cares at all for me- the closest thing to a maternal figure I had growing up. Even though she was my dad’s sister, she remained very close to my mother even after Darlene dumped my dad. Therefore, thankfully, being in Darlene’s good graces, she was allowed to be a part of my life as a child and young teen. She was a busy flight attendant so I didn’t get to see her often, but it was a huge and delightful gift every time I did. She had the compassion and nurturing nature Darlene lacked for me. When she was around, it felt like what I dreamed a mother’s love might feel like.

After I settled in, I took over her housekeeping, dog walking, and laundry as she’d had an aneurysm several years back and had some difficulty still getting around. Her housekeeper had been taking advantage of her and my uncle for years as well as stealing from them. I was furious to find this out and agreed to take over those things. My aunt helped me out by paying me for my help.

This meant I went to my aunt’s seven days a week which I likely would’ve visited that often any way since I was so grateful to have some family again. It made me feel good to help her because she’d helped me in my life and I’ve always felt guilty that I never got a chance to help my dad much after all he’d done for my children and me over the years. At least I’d get to help my aunt!

My dad had told me that when his mother died(very young) and my aunt was only seven, that the last thing she’d said to him was, Johnny, take care of my baby girl. He had taken that promise seriously all my aunt’s life so I felt now that I was helping him at last by honoring his momma’s last request after he was gone.

The only drawback to the arrangement was the domestic situation wasn’t at all comfortable when my uncle was home and the two of them had taken to drinking very heavily daily. After years of carrying the burden of being totally responsible to help her daily since her aneurysm, my uncle was clearly frustrated and maybe a little resentful that my somewhat young aunt needed physical assistance regularly so early in their golden years. She really wasn’t much work to help as she tried to be as independent as she possibly could, but I do understand that after years of it -when my uncle had likely presumed he could relax and enjoy his retirement- it had to feel like a big and unfair burden.

Given certain circumstances, the chores I had accepted responsibility for were far more taxing than I’d ever imagined and I soon started feeling the stress acutely particularly on top of the daily drunken domestic hostility when my uncle was home. I tried to schedule my daily visits around his schedule so as not to encounter him and hear the cruel disdain he treated my aunt with now. It tore my heart out to hear him verbally abuse her. By October, the stress really was getting unbearable and I cut down to five days a week to allow myself a few days of respite from the PTSD and emotional stress of the overall situation and extenuating circumstances.

By November the stress was so unbearable I had quit all tasks I’d agreed to and was helping her find suitable replacements. I wanted to just be able to enjoy time with my aunt rather than be so stressed out, I couldn’t just sit with her. As much as I appreciated the extra money, my purpose moving by her was to be able to enjoy time with her. I think she had been very lonely and somewhat emotionally neglected and abused for at least a few years prior and needed the company and nurturing companionship more than anything else.

On November 5th I was taking a day off from my daily visits when she called around 6 PM and said, I’m sick will you please come take care of me? Never in my life had I heard my aunt complain of being sick. She most definitely was not a complainer! Of course I rushed immediately over feeling so grateful I’d moved six miles away from her and could easily and quickly run over to help whenever she needed.

Immediately walking into their house, I sensed my aunt must really be feeling poorly because she wasn’t in her usual spot on the sofa, where she always was day and night until bedtime. She was in bed and complained of stomach pain. She told me she couldn’t stop shaking although I took her temperature and she didn’t have a fever. I assumed it was a stomach bug and she hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink except her usual wine. I gave her broth and Pedialyte trying to hydrate her from her vomiting.

The only request she made of me was to change the sheets. My uncle had been having some health issues awhile and the sheets were filthy since I’d stopped doing the household chores. In addition, she had vomited black coffee all over the bed. The sheets were beyond nasty and there she was stuck sick in those dirty sheets. I immediately went to get clean sheets to change them. My uncle was even more intoxicated than usual and got very angry-screaming at her for wanting the sheets changed. My PTSD kicked in and of course, I went into fright mode frozen and unable to argue back although I desperately wanted to change those sheets.

Same thing happened when I suggested we take her to the ER because she seemed really sick. My uncle got very angry again, hollering and ranting, so I went into fright mode again and could not stand up to him and argue the case. I texted my cousin who then got yelled at by my uncle too. My cousin and I decided I’d just take her to her doctor’s the next morning rather than have my very drunk uncle ranting and screaming at her.

I sat next to her awhile and when I couldn’t take my uncle’s drunken anger any more, I kissed her on the forehead (she said, don’t kiss me, I’m probably contagious; I said I don’t care if you are!) then said I’d be over in the morning to take her to the doctor’s. I asked her to call me when she woke up so that I didn’t wake her from much needed sleep as she’d been struggling with insomnia for a few days. I felt sleep would be the best thing of all for her.

My sleep was fitful and frightening…images of screaming and helpless violence.

The next morning I was trying to put on some old striped suspenders she’d recently given me because I knew she’d get a laugh out of it if I showed up in suspenders to take her to the doctor. (These suspenders had become a little inside joke between us.) I was struggling with the suspenders but wasn’t worried about the time since I knew she’d call me whenever she awoke.

I received a text message around noon from her sister-in-law’s son saying he was sorry about my aunt. She had died in the night. THIS COULD NOT BE REAL! She was only 64!

And, WHAT THE FUCK? How could her in-law’s children across the country know before anyone had called me? I’m not only her closest next of kin after her husband and children, but I’d been her constant companion and caretaker for the past 9 months. There I’d been laughing at myself trying to get these silly suspenders on for the past hour so I could show up and make her laugh when I arrived and all that while she was dead! She’d been dead for hours…since my uncle had woken up! This had to be a mistake because surely under the circumstances my uncle or cousins would have called me immediately!

Wrong. I immediately called my aunt’s house and my cousin informs me she’s dead. November 6, 2019, my aunt just did not wake up and would never wake up again. My uncle’s entire family across the country knew she was dead while I’d been six miles away struggling to figure out how to wear her old suspenders, laughing, and so excited to surprise her by wearing these suspenders to pick her up. My beloved aunt…the only source of maternal love I’d ever known… was dead and had been dead for hours.

This entire scenario was unreal. I’d just moved here 9 months earlier to be close enough to take care of her when she got old.

I hadn’t stood up to my uncle and taken her to the ER like I wanted.

I hadn’t even stood up to my uncle and changed her sheets like she’d pleaded and I wanted and knew should be done. Her death bed sheets were filthy.

What if I hadn’t have let the housekeeping and sanitizing overwhelm me and had continued to strive daily to keep the house clean and disinfected from my uncle’s medical issue? She had been fine until the week I stopped cleaning the house every day.

My aunt had called me to help her and I’d been too spineless and PTSD riddled to fucking stand up and advocate for her for even those very basic things.

And she died. Her last night was spent with my uncle raging at her, drunkenly annoyed as fuck at her for being sick, screaming because she and I wanted to go to the ER, screaming because she had wanted clean sheets free from black vomit and feces, and I hadn’t even had the smallest courage to stand up for her in her most dire hour of need for little basic humanities. At one point, he had even raised his hand shaking it at her as if he were going to hit her in the she was bent over vomiting!

I left her alone in that situation. I did not advocate or stand up for her. I let PTSD paralyze me…and she died that way.


After a lifetime of being my safe haven, my only loving maternal figure, and my champion at times, I cowered to my PTSD and fear and I left her to die that way.

My uncle has the luxurious grace of not remembering the evening well. The next morning he hadn’t even remembered I had been there at all until I reminded him. His version is that she hadn’t wanted to go to the ER which is entirely untrue. He still believes that today as I couldn’t bring myself to correct him or tell anyone the whole truth of that evening.

I will never ever be able to forgive myself or shake the utterly unbelievable ugliness of that night I left her in that…to die. When she crosses my mind, as she constantly does, I hear him raging, I see him raising his hands to shake at her as she vomited, I see her eyes pleading with me to change the sheets and take her to the ER, and I see me cowering down to a drunken tantrum; too petrified to defend the woman left on this Earth whom I loved and appreciated with my whole being; the only person alive left who gave a goddamn if I lived or died. The only person left in the world who thought I was lovable and valuable as a child and as an adult…flaws and all.

These are my very last memories of my beloved, kind, compassionate, fun-loving, beautiful aunt. Her husband -my uncle- is lucky enough not to remember and I will never ever be able to forget.

Narcissistic Inconvenience


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In 2001, my children were 2 and 4. I had suffered a massive stroke while pregnant with the 2 year old, leaving me extensively and noticeably physically weakened and unstable.

It wasn’t easy having 2 little toddlers to care for alone with such extensive physical handicaps, but I was grateful I had recovered enough to provide them a momma and could still attempt to manage a home for us at all.

We lived in rent-controlled subsidized housing as my only income was $500 per month disability plus whatever temporary jobs I could get that accommodated my disabilities. It was a very nice newer townhouse though and it was in a decent neighborhood where my kids were safe to play outside. My ex, their non-disabled father, was making around $800k or more a year. With his income bracket, I was entitled to a significant amount of child support, but because I feared angering him and I feared him resenting our children if he was forced to pay the several thousand dollars a month support to which we were legally entitled, I gratefully accepted the $200/month he chose to pay and I simply adjusted our lives to live the best I could manage for the 3 of us on the total of $700/month.

He lived about 3 hours away from us at the time and in addition to not taking him to court and demanding enforcement of reasonably appropriate child support, I also drove our children half way to his house for his visits to ease the travel burden on him.

I had an old beat up Honda that my dad had helped me purchase shortly after I’d left my children’s father. My ex had driven my prior car into the automobile graveyard in efforts to preserve his own car from too much wear and tear and when that car of mine died a few months before our first daughter was born, he went out and bought himself a new car, leaving me without a car- not even the old but dependable means of transportation I’d had before we met.

So this little beat up but dependable Honda my dad had helped me obtain was precious to me for our independence. It was how I got to work any jobs I was able for extra money to live on; it was how I, even with severe physical limitations, was able to occasionally safely take my two children under the age of 4 to the park or beach or for an ice cream treat; it was how I helped make their dad’s busy successful career life easier by driving them half way to his house for weekend visits whenever he requested. Sometimes if the fatigue was too great for me physically to safely make this drive with 2 little kids, my dad being a godsend of our lives (and our safety) would not hesitate to make that drive helping their dad out on my behalf.

This had been the practice for as long as I’d been split from my babies’ dad. We didn’t once deny him this extra consideration. We just made it happen every visit he wanted, no matter the burden or inconvenience for us. If I couldn’t do it, my dad did it for me. Period. Zero complaints and zero exceptions.

But once in 2001 when they were 2 and 4, I had serious car trouble. The tie rod on my car was worn bad. I had obtained a repair quote. The price to fix the tie rod was around $500.00! I didn’t have that kind of money obviously. And to make matters worse, the mechanic warned me that it was so close to snapping in half completely that he strongly urged me not to drive the car at all until it was repaired but that if I had to drive it prior to repair to make sure I not drive far, not exceed 35 miles per hour, or drive it on highways. He warned that if the car was going over 35 mph and hit any kind of bump at all, the tie rod would likely snap in half and it could cause an immediate and possibly fatal accident.

My dad helped my children and I so much already, I didn’t want to ask him for this repair money. So, I just didn’t drive with my children in the car around that time unless it was totally unavoidable and I could stay safely under 35 mph. During this time, my dad drove my kids and I mostly to important events. Of course, in this time, my dad did all the half-way to their dad’s house driving with my kids to meet their dad as the route half way to him was over an hour of highway driving.

One week while my dad was out of state on vacation, my ex wanted his weekend visit with the usual additional assistance of being met half way in the middle. He had informed me on a Wednesday that he wanted them that coming Friday for the weekend.

I panicked because my dad would be out of state that weekend. So I immediately went about calling several friends to ask them to drive us if I paid them gas money for the trip or asking if i could borrow their car. On Friday morning, I was still calling friends and acquaintances trying to secure the hour and a half one-way highway ride for my children and me to meet their dad.

Incidentally, their wealthy dad who paid less than one-eighth of the legal child support we were entitled to for his part in providing for our children- money I could have easily used to afford either the car repair I needed or possibly even a newer car altogether- had recently purchased a shiny reliably new SUV for himself.

Around noon on Friday, having been unable to secure any driving assistance for this 3 hour round trip jaunt to make my ex’s life a few hours easier, I called him to explain that I couldn’t meet him half way this time. I explained the tie rod, the mechanic’s warning, the money I didn’t have for the repairs, that my dad was out of town, and my many unsuccessful efforts to get a ride or borrow a safe car.

I’d explained the entire situation to him on the phone struggling to use my face and shoulder to hold the phone and my one hand/arm that still worked since my stroke to fix lunch for our two freshly napped and hungry toddlers. There was a long silent pause when I was finished explaining.

Finally after more than 30 seconds of uncomfortable silence on his part had passed, I simply said, So…. I’m really sorry I can’t meet you half way today. You’ll need to come here to pick them up or we’ll have to reschedule for next weekend when my dad can drive them to meet you half-way….

Still dead silence on the other end of the phone. I was getting frustrated at this continued total silence (an annoying trademark of his) because I had one working hand and could not finish getting my 2 and 4 year old their lunch while on the phone sitting and waiting for him to break this extensive silence in reply to my situation.

So finally after waiting forever again for him to reply and getting absolute silence, I finally spoke again and said, Mark, I’m really sorry I can’t meet you this time. I tried everything I could think of to manage it, but I can’t possibly drive our babies an hour and a half on a highway to meet you today. It’s not safe, but they’re also hungry right now and I need to hang up to finish getting them their lunches, so I really need you to speak and tell me if you want to come pick them up this time or reschedule for next weekend, ok?

Another 2-3 second pause passed. He finally spoke. He didn’t offer to help me with the repair money to fix my car; he didn’t say he’d drive this one time the whole way to pick up our children; and he didn’t say, okay let’s reschedule for next weekend when your dad can meet me.


I’d dealt with his terrifying fury while we had lived together and had literally spent the past 4 years sacrificing and accommodating anything he wanted just to avoid the terror of his anger even while living 3 hours away from him. So when he screamed this, I just started shaking from head to toe.

And after every narcissistic trait he’d shown me from the day I’d met him, I was still beyond shocked he would literally demand I put our two little babies’ lives in actual danger just to save himself a longer than usual drive. He was willing, no demanding, that I risk his 2 and 4 year old children’s lives for no reason at all except his added convenience.

But I feared him. And I constantly feared him holding these things – any little thing he didn’t get his way with- against our kids out of anger toward me. I feared he would resent our sweet little babies these things and their relationship with him might be compromised. I wanted better than that for my babies. I couldn’t stay in a relationship with their dad but I was committed to doing everything in my power to ensure they enjoyed a strong relationship with their dad like I was so grateful to have with my own dad.

So, I did what any well trained narcissistic and domestic violence abuse survivor does, I followed his irate demand and put my two little children in my death trap of a car and drove them the hour and a half to meet him.

It took me just over 3 hours to drive an hour and a half drive going 35 miles per hour all the way. I was a shaking nervous wreck the entire way scared to death of every unforeseeable possible bump in the road.

But I didn’t want my 2 little toddlers to know how terrified and panicked I was on this endless slow drive, so I popped in the Sarah Evans CD they loved so much and we sang at the top of our lungs, while I drove 35 mph on the highway and acted silly in the front seat making them laugh the whole slow ride through hell to make their dad’s life easier that day.

It seemed like forever getting there but I was never more relieved in my entire life than I was that day when we finally got to our destination.

I exchanged the children into their dad’s shiny, safe, brand-spanking-new SUV, and I turned right around and drove 35 mph the entire way for the 3 hour long (hour and a half drive) back home sobbing in enormous relief that I’d gotten them there safely and praying to God my dad would be back home in time on Sunday to meet him half way to pick them back up.


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I was the happy girl.

The unconditional love girl.

The forgive anything girl.

The bounce-back no matter how hard the punch girl.

The live and let live girl.

The this will not define me girl.

The lover of books girl.

The hug everyone girl.

The cry it out and this too shall pass girl.

The at least my daddy always loved me girl.

And now, I’m the none of those things at all woman.

For love and goulash


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The weather is turning cooler and I’m making goulash for comfort food.

As I prepare the ingredients, I remember the first time I heard of that dish with the funny name “goulash”.

I was in the 7th grade and my dad had driven all the way up to where I lived with my mom.

It was just getting dark when he arrived. As usual, no one else was home except my sister and me.

I was so happy to see him. He didn’t often come the full way to our house. He and mom usually met half way, but this time he’d come the whole way to pick us up.

He asked if I’d eaten yet. I hadn’t. He rummaged about in the big fancy kitchen with all the best newfangled gadgets money could buy, looking for something to cook for us, he said, not much in here to work with, what do y’all usually eat?

I don’t know daddy. Whatever is there. Sometimes I sauté a can of mushrooms in butter or if there’s lunch meat, I might make a sandwich. Just whatever’s easy and available.

As he’s flipping through the plethora of cabinets and cupboards, “Your mom doesn’t cook for you?”

No, not very often. She and Jim are usually gone until around bedtime. Jim’s business is always busy, so they work a lot. We just usually cook for ourselves or eat whatever’s on hand.

He grins that big beloved grin of his. “Ohhhh, I see something with potential in here! Don’t you worry, I’ll whip up something you’ll love in a jiffy!”

What’re you gonna make daddy?


Goulash? What is that? That’s a weird word. Never heard of that before. Kinda makes me think of rain boots!

My dad laughing, “What? You’ve never had goulash? Don’t you worry, it’s gonna be good. Finish your homework and dinner will be ready in 20 minutes.”

In the living room with my school books, I kept glancing behind me into the big kitchen thinking how strange it looked to see my dad bustling about in my mom’s kitchen that my step-dad had built for her.

It felt comforting seeing him there and I was excited to have a real supper… actually cooked for me and everything. That didn’t happen often in this house.

He’d doctored up some leftover chili into goulash to stretch it to make it delicious and enough for all 3 of us.

He put onions and beans in it with pasta and tomatoes, spices, and the leftover chili.

I despised onions and was not a fan of beans, but I didn’t tell him that. I ate every single bite and gushed with praise over his magical cooking skills to transform a little bit of leftover chili into a fantastic meal.

I remember feeling so content, safe, loved, and happy as I ate my goulash, chatting with him about school and all things about being 12. I wished more than anything he lived closer.

And right in that minute, I couldn’t remember the last time someone had cooked for me. Even with the onions and beans I didn’t care for, that goulash tasted like a bowl of love itself to me.

I savored every minute and every bite.

And when I grew up to be a momma, I cooked dinner almost every night for my daughters. I fussed and fretted throughout many days about groceries and what i could fix them for dinner each night. I always wanted dinners to be a special time for them.

…because I’d never forgotten how much impromptu spontaneous goulash, even with yukky beans and onions, could taste like love.

The Scent of Insanity


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Lifehouse – From Where You Are

It’s that time again:  crisp air, clear blue sunny skies, scents of pumpkin flock the stores next to back-to-school paraphernalia.

Feeling down and lonely with my thoughts all over the goddamn place, I decide to take a jaunt to the nearby Dollar General and treat myself to a seasonally scented candle.  Candles are soothing and fill this house with nostalgic smells of impending autumns long past when life made some sort of sense.

Within 3 minutes of browsing the aisles, I realize I’ve overstepped.  All the cute Halloween decorations remind me of how thrilled I used to be decorating the house with cute Halloween stuff for my daughters and their friends.

Flashbacks like sporadic scenes from various movies start flipping through my mind…

Brain decides to pretend it’s any year at all prior to 2012: Oh, the girls would really love those sparkly sunflower yard ornaments. Those cute pumpkins would be perfect for the girls’ rooms…

The back-to school stuff reminds me of gathering supplies; browsing the aisles with two absolutely amazing children while discussing all the foreseeable fears, problems, and excitements of heading into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th grade….  Me, chatting along with them, trying to be totally nonchalant about my fears of having enough money for all the school supplies they need and silently praying I might have enough for at least one thing they each just want.

FUCK!  Now, I’m in the goddamn Dollar General crying.  Should have stayed home.  At least there, no one can see me be pathetic.

I keep my face turned toward and buried in the crowded shelves, away from any customers, mortified with the tears I can’t stop and hiding my face deeply engrossed in whatever the hell’s displayed on that shelf.

Ah…at last!  The candles! Hot tears still streaming down my face, I sniff the Pumpkin Pie, The Pecan Muffin, the Apple Currant…  Okay, so I smell all the fucking candles, desperately hoping the movie snippets playing in my head will stop so I can pull myself together enough to select one and face the cashier.

I am GOING TO TREAT MYSELF TO A CANDLE, DAMMIT!  Today, this time, I am NOT sneaking right back out the door empty handed and desperate to hide my crybaby face.


I select the Apple Currant candle since it carries the least agony of nostalgia.

I make it through the check out with what I tell myself are just curious odd looks from the cashier at my tear stained red face, probably scrunched in desperate focus to not start crying again.

I step outside the store with my little plastic yellow bag and suddenly out of nowhere, I smell the very distinct and ancient scent of – of all things – my elementary school cafeteria?  

Grainy pink soap and doughy pizza burgers, the scent almost seems speckled with tiny flecks of gold sparkles in the cafeteria’s linoleum floor.

For whatever reason, this olfactory nostalgia sets the ridiculous crybaby in me off again. Now, I’m walking to my car sobbing through the Dollar General parking lot.

Christ almighty, what the hell is wrong with me?  I’m a goddamn sloppy pathetic mess of obnoxious tears and inescapable agony.

In my car, I keep my head down, fervently hoping no one sees me pathetically bawling like this, like a pitiful, unstable, insane person  The pain tearing through my heart is UNBEARABLE!

I can’t.  I just can’t.

Maybe I should go back in and grab a bottle of that cheap wine they sell?  Maybe I could go home, light my lovely scented candle and treat myself to a glass or two of a mildly mind-numbing beverage?

No.  Then I’d just be plagued with guilt and frantic over whether that means I’m a raging alcoholic like the narcissists and my children accused when my dad died.  Wine won’t bring any real moments of relief anyway.  Forget it.

Nah, I’ll just bite down on the wooden spoon and hold my breath through this soul ripping agony au naturelle, no choice but to suffer through every damn pinch, stab, punch, and pull as usual.

There is no solution to this pain.  There is no fix, not temporary or permanent.

Keep a candle burning in the window til they come home. When they finally arrive home again, they’ll love the comforting smell in the house and remember the truth of all our years together, happy…  I can almost see the delighted smiles on their face as they say, Momma, it smells so good in here! as they realize I never really stopped waiting for them.

Once home, I immediately put the candle in the window, like I have since my children betrayed, attacked, and abandoned, and shunned me.

I no longer can remember how it feels to not hurt all the time.

I forget what my face feels like to smile.  I can’t remember the sound of my own laugh.  I don’t remember what I look like without the deep agony-bearing furrow in between my eyes.

But I can remember the smell of my elementary school cafeteria.

And I vaguely remember the delight of getting hugs from my children every day and every night.

I distantly…like looking way down a dark underground tunnel…squinting my eyes to see way to the tiny end… remember the security of hearing my dad’s voice on the other end of a phone call.

And, I can remember the sound of giggles and laughter being a part of every single day.  Then, I  suddenly feel the depth of pain to remember that we didn’t go one full day in 15 years without the sound of carefree laughter floating around our lives.

I remember the sound, but I can’t hear it anymore.


Keep a candle burning in the window til they come home.

I think it’s now more like, keep a candle burning in the window til I get to go home Wherever home is, I’m not sure anymore, but it’s GOT to be somewhere — anywhere —  that makes this infuriating, unbearable, constant pain stop once and for all.

Now, I’ll keep a candle burning in the window til the day comes when I finally get to go home.

A Father’s Grace


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Awhile back, I was sharing memories of my dad with someone and they said something that deeply bothered me. She said, You just exaggerate your dad’s good qualities. No one is that perfect. You’re romanticizing him now because he’s dead. For fuck’s sake, no one’s perfect!

I’m not sure why that person was so frustrated with me sharing a few of my dad’s most admirable qualities, but this was out of line for so many reasons.

I admire and cherish so many things about my dad, but I’m fully aware that he was not perfect by any means.

He was wonderful in many ways, but he could be a real son of a bitch once in awhile too. He also could be a serious pain in the ass.

I choose not to share many of those stories. Yeah, partly because he’s dead and I prefer to focus and share the good stuff.

But also because I can count on one hand the times my dad was a jerk and I can say with complete honesty that not once did my dad act like a jerk or do something hurtful, or make a grievous mistake without apologizing. He fucked up like anyone does, but unlike narcissists like my mother and my ex, he always admitted when he was wrong, apologized and then always followed through on his apologies by not repeating that error.

Holding grudges and retaining anger are not natural states for me. By nature, I’m eager to forgive. Few people in my life have ever apologized or even admitted their mistakes or hurtful actions. So, in my world, when someone apologizes and deliberately doesn’t repeat the hurt, the wrong is corrected in my heart. I might still remember the hurt or disappointment of it all… and my dad did hurt me a few times in my life…. but I forgave him and I just don’t dwell on people’s mistakes.

God knows I’ve made enough mistakes of my own! And I’ve rarely been graced with true forgiveness…except from my dad.

I learned real forgiveness from my dad; because my dad showed me (and many others) such beautiful amazing grace

I confess, once in awhile, I recall a few hurtful things my dad did in my lifetime, and they still hurt a little, but then I only become immediately grateful that I had someone teach me the grace of true forgiveness and the integrity to honestly admit my mistakes and imperfections, face up to them… learn from them who and what I don’t want to be.

If not for this man as my father, his easy grace and natural integrity, I’d never have known anything but anger, blame, and infinite punishment for my own numerous flaws and imperfections. The narcissists in my life showed me plenty of that nasty, soul demeaning, perfection-demanding impossible shit.

How could I ever choose to be anything but eternally grateful? Even for the few hurtful things he did….?

How could I ever not embrace the beautiful qualities I learned and acquired from those very things?

And why would I ever? How could I be like a narcissist and bitterly spread his few imperfections and mistakes around? Why would I ever take a handful of this man’s imperfections and use them to slander and belittle him like narcissists do?

In my mind, every hurtful thing my dad did to me is truly irrelevant and unimportant. And it was irrelevant even before he died. In my heart, his beauty and grace that came directly from those things outshine any lingering hurt or resentment I could ever feel.

I’ve forgiven him the way he demonstrated forgiveness. Grace and integrity make true forgiveness easy.

I will forever focus on his beautiful qualities. I will forever honor this man’s memory. That’s not exaggerating. That’s not romanticizing?!


That’s truth.

The truth of my dad; who was amazing,



and so very easy to forgive.

Hindsight Vomit


, , , , ,

When our dad died, I’d wanted to share little tidbits with my sister of who he was … who he’d become over the 25-some years she’d had very little to do with him at all.

He’d been the center of mine and my daughters’ world. Our rock, our saving grace, our everything that was hope and decency in our very challenging lives.

I bought into her exaggerated whispers of heartache dripping with excessive never before seen or heard compassion.

Hook, line, and sinker, I bought it. I assumed her pain had to come close to my own, although she’d barely acknowledged him for over 25 years.

Still, the loss had to be great for her too, right? Maybe even more so for her because she’d been so uncaring and uninvolved… who was I to assume our pain and loss ran the deepest? The most catastrophic?

So every opportunity I had to share some little story of his kindness, his beautiful heart, his selflessness and dedication, I jumped at because I wanted her to get the chance to see his last 25 years accurately. I wanted her to know our dad even though she’d chosen not to know him so well for many years.

When I told her the charming story of his new-ish lazy boy recliner he’d recently bought… how he’d struggled with the thought of spending that much on himself for a chair he loved, how proud of that chair he’d been, how much he’d enjoyed it after allowing himself such a much deserved simple luxury, she looked at me with vacant eyes and said, Do you think we can return it?

My dad’s rare luxurious indulgence : a leather recliner!

i thought to myself, RETURN IT?? After the story i just shared with you? Omg, this chair meant so much to him! He was so proud of it! Why would we ever try to return it?

When she scoured through his kitchen cabinets and came to the set of dishes he’d had since before we were born, I brought up memories of him cooking delicious meals for us and never looking my way at all, she simply said, Yeah…. these are so vintage they might actually be worth some money!

The priceless dishes of fond childhood meals

I thought to myself, SELL THEM? The memories that come with these dishes are quite literally countless and priceless to me. I will cherish them every time I even look at them. Every meal eaten in them will feel infinitely special for their memories. Why would we ever sell them?

When she filtered through his finances with prying greedy eyes, I told her how generous he’d been with my children and me, how I wasn’t sure how we’d have survived sometimes without his generosity. She scoffed and very snidely said, Gawdddd, he didn’t live on much, did he?

I thought to myself, yeah, he worked hard to be able to have some security but mostly he worked hard to help my children and I with basics and a few luxuries now and then to make us smile. He lived simply his entire life just to be able to do these things. Greed, extravagance, and excess just weren’t in his nature.

In the probate attorney’s office as the lawyer went through what our dad literally worked his entire life to save for retirement, as I felt I might vomit just thinking about spending a penny of his hard earned lifetime achievement, as I sobbed with every part of my body and soul, and said, I don’t really care about his money; he worked a lifetime for that and he never got to really enjoy it. She eagerly and quite brightly said, I care about the money! I wanna hear about the money!!

Yet, when I insisted we honor his last wishes and jointly be executors of his estate; when I said I felt like it was wrong to have her do it alone, no matter how much she manipulated me and feigned compassion to get me to give her that.. when I said, he’s done so much for me and my children, I want so much to honor his wishes and at the least, now help take care of resolving his entire life. I feel it’s the least I can do for him now.

She sneered in sheer undisguised disgust and said, You don’t want to do that for him. You only care about yourself. You only want to do it for yourself.

And, as usual, I felt confused. How could taking care of his estate and his belongings, wrapping up the final details of my dad’s entire life… How could doing that ever be all about me?  It actually was physically painful to me to be rifling through his entire life… handling the last pieces of everything he ever was, did, or had.  In it for myself??? That didn’t even make sense to me…

It never occurred to me then that her intentions were completely devious and so the thought of anyone wanting to do it just because it was his wish, just to feel like I’d honored his last wishes, just to feel that I’d finally be able to do something for last thing….

Anything that sincere and noble in his honor was utterly foreign to someone so overwhelmed with the excitement of benefiting from his death in every possible way she could finagle.

What a filthy disgusting sociopath, so goddamn excited for how much she could gain from her dad’s sudden death  that she literally couldn’t even conceive of someone truly just desperate to honor his memory and cherish the last chance to ever take care of him in some way… even if it only was after he was dead.

The thought now of me treating her as if she genuinely hurt or as if she had even lost anything at all, makes me want to puke.

Yeah, our loss was definitely “equal”. I was definitely “in it for myself”…

Holy hell, hindsight is painfully 20/20.

Collecting Dust


, , ,

Head spinning

like a little girl twirling to lose her balance

In an empty world built of

lies and broken trust.

Wise words from long ago

slice through brain cells

both dead and alive

with a razor’s heartless precision.

Uncertain which weighs more true,

the scale shakes and

shivers like memories built on sand castles of betrayal

scattering… like dust in the wind…

What to do with a fully wasted life of

false love and true lies?

A life so riddled with bullets

it’s unrecognizable as a life at all.

It doesn’t pulsate with life.

Where nothing was real

not even hope

or faith

or trust

or friendship

or family

and especially not love…

Love was the ultimate lie

-a clever, cunning weapon of mass destruction.

Dust collecting rapidly on the

senseless scrambles of

memories that never were….