Thursday, December 27, 2018

December 25 & 26, 2018

Dec. 25:
To say that I'm overwhelmed emotionally today would be an understatement. Today is exactly one month after Joy's death and it's christmas, a holiday I already have mixed feelings about. I did a lovely ritual for Yule on the Winter's Solstice that helped me release some of my anger. On Sunday, I had an excellent dinner with my cousin Heather who (whether she knows it or not) helped me mentally sort through some things. I'm still crying every day, but apparently tears are great for shielding from illness as I haven't caught Bek's plague. I have received so many amazing cards and gifts (I have such wonderful friends and family!), both condolences and celebratory. Today I even accomplished cleaning and straightening the bunny area (happy bunnies!), petting buns, cuddled all the cats, and did laundry. I still have presents and things to finish, but I'm not stressing about it.
My favorite gift, the one that made me weep with sorrow and happiness, is the painting Bek did of our two boys, Meander and Nemesis. 💙

Dec. 26:
Today was rough. At work we were unexpectedly short staffed, I had to be mentally present for a business meeting, and there were tech issues... (At one point, the power went out in the library in the middle of me helping a patron who was dealing with some legal stuff online! Fortunately, once the power came back on, I was able to help her recreate everything, and she was very kind, but it was super frustrating.) I was so glad for Alex, who checked in ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD!! Okay, maybe a few less than that, but there was a lot due to us being closed for two days. Since I had a meeting then was consumed with helping patrons on tbe computers, it was pretty much just him for the morning.
The hardest part was all the people asking me if I had a good Christmas. Saying I don't celebrate just changed the question to, "well, did you have a good time on your days off?" I couldn't lie, so I said no and turned the question back on them. Most folks took the hint, but I had one regular who kept pushing and was asking where my family was, did I grow up around here, etc. He's a sweet man, but I really, really, really didn't want to get into any of that.
When I got to my car, I saw that my dad had called. My first thought was, "who died now?" I hated that I was right... My aunt Liz, who was 93 and had health issues, died peacefully this morning. While I'm so glad for the peaceful going, it is still loss and I bawled.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

I want to Eat His Heart

He killed my sister
I want to eat his heat
I want to hit him with a truck
I want to rip him limb from limb
I want him to feel the pain my sister felt
Until there's nothing left but his eyes
I want his body to be crushed
I want to eat his eyes
He killed my sister

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Listing, part I

Five Emotions:
  • First and foremost, sorrow. No, that's not right... SORROW That's better. Well, not better... nothing is better. Everything is worse. (Hence, the sorrow.) It feels like a wet, sticky blanket and it's heavy, oh so heavy. I can't take it off, it shrouds me. There are several very tangible points of sorrow - my cat dying, my sister being crushed to death in her bed by a truck, my other sister losing her home because a truck drove through it, that same sister's dog dying, my missing my chance to go to the International Book Fair, my other cat dying, the five year anniversary of my mom's sudden death, not being nearby for my dad and my sisters - and each one another layer of  heavy, sticky, wet blanket of SORROW. It is constantly with me, heavy and dripping toxic sludge on those around me. I try to keep it all to myself, but I can't. It's too obvious; too prevailing; too consuming. It oozes and drips on all who get too close. It's like a cold... contagious upon exposure.
  • Next comes the emotion that is not mine, but is directed at me. While I try to hide my sorrow or even just express it without emotion, it affects them. They can feel it when I am near, hear it in my voice, see it on my face. I can see them reacting to it before I even speak of it. PITY is what their expressions scream out. I hate pity. I always have. It is a deep and soulless emotion. It is the bastard child of arrogance and sorrow. It has little purpose. But sometimes, it's impossible to avoid.
  • Third, GUILT. You might notice the missing my chance to go to the International Book Fair wedged in between my sister's dog dying and my cat dying. And I know, I know, I shouldn't feel guilty. But I do. When there are so many horrible things to be sad about, how do I have a right to be sad about that? There are so many worse thing going on in the world and even in my own life. But I am sad and frustrated about it. I also feel that GUILT because I am here in Illinois, far from where the legal proceedings are. I can't be with my sister, I'm not there to stare the guy who killed my other sister in the face. 
  • Fourth, ANGER. But, right now, the anger is muted, it's buried in the sorrow, though I see little peeks of it. Anger at life, anger at the asshole who drove the truck, anger that I can't just be there. 
  • Fifth is ANGST. According to some dictionary somewhere in internetlandia, "a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general." Now this may seem weird since there is so much closer to home to feel anxious about, and I do, but it does leave one feeling angst about the rest of the world too. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I am lost. Someone from my writing group chose to leave rather than stay in the same room as me and my sorrow. I should not have told what happened to my sister. But this is where I am. I am sorrow. She tried to comfort with saying it must have been part of something; that there are lessons for us to learn. I just cannot deal with thinking of my sister's life as a lesson and said as much. I should have kept my mouth shut... I should have nodded and let her believe that she was truly comforting me. But my level of tolerance for pithy declarations is low. Why am I, the aggrieved, expected to placate you in your stumbling efforts to comfort? Why do I have to deal with that too? It upset her and she left. My cohort in this writers group mentioned something about this being a safe space. I do not feel safe. (When a truck can drive through the wall of a house and kill your sister in the bed where she is sleeping, your view of safety, that was tenuous at best, is broken. "Safe as houses" is such a crock of shit.) But there, I laid my heart out and it was trampled on. I hate it. I want to compartmentalize. But how can compartmentalizing happen when you're dealing with writing and emotion? When this is where your writing is? I was angry at her for being upset and leaving, then I felt selfish... I am so selfish when I am sorrow.

Joy Swan
I got a memorial tattoo on my head that night. I needed that. A physical pain to commemorate the emotional pain with a beautiful swan that represents my sister. When I got the memorial tattoo for my mom, I cried. It was an emotional release. This one had no tears since I have been crying every day and night off and on for almost a month now.

But I feel I haven't hit the truth of my emotions with my sister. There is too much tangle with sorrow over cats dying and dog dying and worry about my other sisters and guilt for feeling sad about missing my trip and guilt for feeling relieved to be home... But deeper down I can feel an anger building. It's not here yet. I am still mired in sorrow. I am still sorrow... but the anger will come eventually.

And I am so tired. I feel like I might fall asleep in the middle of anything if I am not careful. I am sleeping more, but not well. My dreams suck. My writing sucks. I hate everything. I love everyone. I can do nothing right. I have the worst luck. That is not always the case. Do I go through cycles of luck and fortune? I feel like I do. But whenever my luck and fortune are good, I'm always waiting/dreading for the bad to come. When it does, it's always so much.

When my mom died five years ago, I kept waiting for the more. It didn't happen. I thought maybe things were different now. Maybe life was saying, "hey, here's this terrible thing you have to deal with. But here's time to grieve. You know how to grieve since you've had enough sorrow and pets dying and other things, so this is something you'll recover from." It was still so sudden and so sad, missing my mom and knowing all the work that my sisters and my dad were doing to make sure Joy was taken care of (and feeling guilty for being far and not helping)... But it was tenable.

But this... this is shit. This is like life took a huge bucket of suck and dumped it all over my family, making sure my youngest sister whose house it was got the worst of it (next to my oldest sister who died) with me getting a big splash off right in the face. And it splashed in all directions, before and after Joy's death, killing two of my cats, one on each side, before and after the accident, and my sister's dog on the latter side. No, not a bucket of suck... a bomb... an explosion... a truck crashing through a wall.

One of my aunts said, "God only gives you what you can handle." Glazing over the god comment and the pomposity of christians to think that their beliefs are the only ones that matter, I might've sprained my eyeballs trying to force them not to roll into the back of my head. I mean, no one ever commits suicide from not being able to handle the things in their life. Right? RIGHT?!?

Now that I brought up the dreaded 'S' word, I will take a moment to reassure you, dear reader and friend, that I am NOT suicidal. I wouldn't do that to my partner or my friends or my family, especially not with all the other shit they're having to deal with. Also, I don't feel suicidal. (I've been suicidal before... I know what it feels like and this is nowhere near that.) Suicidal for me meant that I was not writing. As long as I'm writing, either about what I'm going through or just random other things, nothing is quite so dire. I am writing every day, even if it is the worst, I am writing out my emotions and trying to make some sense of incomprehensible things through words that are completely fucking inadequate and stupid and I hate them and almost wish I didn't even know language so my thoughts could not form words and I could not write down all this drivel... But I am writing. I am sad and filled with more emotions than I know what to do with, but I am still writing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

5 Years Ago Today

It's 4 am and I've been awake for at least an hour crying and thinking about my mother who died five years ago. An older wound, not yet healed, and it is infected. The infection gets worse with each more recent wound.

The traumatic death of my sister Joy, the death of my two cats Meander and Nemesis, my worry about my other sister who lost her house when our sister was killed and, less than two weeks later, her sweet dog Besty died. Less wounding but still incredibly disappointing is my trip to Mexico and my visiting the International Book Fair getting thwarted.

Also, I'm pretty sure something is broken. The break keeps getting worse with each wound that has been layered on my heart. My chest physically hurts for these non-physical ailments. (I have never understood that... how we can physically hurt for something that is emotional and psychological.) One after the other, like a slow motion pummeling that leaves me bruised and broken and bleeding. If this was a relationship, I would tell myself to get out. But getting out of this abusive relationship with life would leave too many others bruised and broken and bleeding. I have no illusions that my abuser is going to change... that I can somehow make life be gentle. We've gone through this cycle before. Once the abuse begins, it just keeps coming.

Last time, I tried to die. I committed suicide on the daily, but it didn't stick. I was never very good at killing myself, though I was an expert at hiding my pain, to my detriment. This time, I'm trying to wear my pain out in the open. I will not say I am okay when I am not. I will not apologize for someone else's discomfort. I will allow myself time to grieve and I will not set a timer on it. ("Ding! Times up! Get over being sad and broken!") No, I will do the things I have to do like work, take care of my pets, finish figuring out what all I need to complete my classes, write, eat, sleep (somewhat), and try to take care of myself.

But I will not wallow. Wallowing is what got me dropping out of school 23 years ago after an almost successful attempt at killing myself. I will continue to care about others and remember that strangers might be going through things just as bad or worse than me so I need to be patient and kind. Kindness is so important. I will also resume helping in whatever way I can to rescue animals, but I will be forgiving to myself and wait to do that when I'm ready. I will also celebrate and be there for my friends in whatever way I can because they deserve it.

With that last thought in mind, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that this day is also the birthday of one of my dearest friends, Claire Cooney, who I sometimes call Kikiriki because I always want to crow about her. Someday when I'm not writing in the wee hours of the morning a stream-of-consciousness rant, I will put together something worthy of her. I hope for now it is enough that she is a shining star in my bleak landscape leading me to water when I can find none.

I love you, Ki!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

I Am Going Nowhere Today

Meander on the left, Nemesis on the right

I Am Going Nowhere Today
by j9 vaughn

I see you out there Death 
Sitting on my doorstep
I will not ask you in
You were not invited

I will stay in my house
Pretend you are not there
I will not let you in
You were not invited

So much there is to do
With all you have taken
I do not want you here
You were not invited

But Death you came inside
And made my home your own
I did not ask you in
You were not invited

As of late, I have had a lot of death in my world. 

On November 1st (Dia de Los Muertos), I took my cat Meander who had been losing weight and acting lethargic, to the vet. We hoped it was related to the thyroid problems we were already treating. But his thyroid levels were fine. So we did X-rays and found that his entire chest cavity was filled with fluids. Every possible prognosis from there led to more pain and suffering for Meander. At 16 or 17 (his true age was never known as I got him when I was working at the shelter) and the frail state of his body, made him not a good candidate for surgery which my vet saw this leading to since there was most likely a cancerous mass causing the fluids. So I made the decision to euthanize. He died purring.

I wrote this blog post about my sister who died tragically on November 24th, 2018. The post includes a link to my youngest sister getting interviewed since it was the house she was renting that got destroyed. The house belongs to my cousin who had to fly back to the USA from Qatar to deal with all that mess. I ended up getting into Mexico, finding out about my sister, then turning around and flying back to the USA. (I was  going to the International Book Fair in Guadalajara with a grad class and for my job at the library.) 

On December 7th, my youngest sister, the one whose house had been destroyed and was there with my oldest sister, woke up to her elderly beagle Betsy (who had just been diagnosed with cancer behind one of her eyes) not breathing well. So my sister took her into the clinic. Her vet did everything she could, but Betsy didn't make it.

Nemesis (Nems) who was mine and my bestie's cat, had been losing weight just before I left for Mexico. My bestie and our housie were keeping an eye on him while I was gone. But he wasn't eating well, so when I got back, I took him to the vet. He was down from 11 lbs to 8 lbs, but the vet felt it was most likely due to a viral infection, possibly toxoplasmosis, and thought that he should be able to kick it with the antibiotics. But there was a slight chance that it was cancerous, so I was keeping a close eye on him. On December 8th, between 11 pm and midnight, a few hours after I had given him his meds and we had cuddled, he had moved to lay on the floor. (He always forgave me so fast! With 2 syringes of meds, 1 of water, and a pill shoved in his face, he would be mad for like half a minute then would come back to cuddle and purr in my lap.) I noticed he didn't come over for food, but he had eaten earlier so I wasn't too worried. Then he started coughing, loud and hard. He wasn't getting breath. I checked his airways, but he wasn't choking on anything, he was just choking. I called the 24 hour vet as he stopped breathing. They said to bring him in. With me practically shouting, "really? He's not breathing!" as my housie and I ran to the door and I was calling my bestie. But then I could feel his heart stop... and he went limp... Since I worked at an animal shelter years ago, I know how to check for vital signs in a cat. He was gone... so quick... on December 8th I had lost another cat, another friend, another gentle, loving soul. I cried, I wailed, I keened. My housie cried with me and, as soon as she got home, my bestie joined in the mourning. 
It just S U C K S!!!

December 12th, 2018, is my Mom's 5 year death-iversary. And I'm just done.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Death Stalked My Sister

This is the news station my sister Kess works for covering the accident that killed my other sister Joy. I so love & admire my youngest sister Kess for being willing to go on camera & be interviewed to make sure Joy’s story was told right. I doubt I could have done it.

This is the poem I wrote:

And Followed Her Inside

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

Joy was my first best friend
I was her annoying shadow
She liked to tease and instigate
That’s how her love did show
We played at being mermaids
Sirenas of ocean flow

We learned to speak a language
Not our native tongue
Living in Venezuela
When we were both quite young
She had an ear for music
For HER Spanish sung

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

For five years we lived overseas
And such adventures had
Four lively sisters
With our mom and dad
We had a sheltered life
Before things went so bad

She once stopped me from drowning
I’d ignored my father’s call
I walked until my foot did slip
Atop a waterfall
She reached her hand and grabbed me
And saved me from the fall

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

The first of the tragedies
Came with deafening sound
In Puerto Ordaz Venezuela
A firecracker round
Was thrown in through a window
And landed on the ground

Right next to Joy’s desk
Exploding by left ear
The world went blank and silent
And nothing could she hear
For almost seven days
Before the ear did clear

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

The second strange occurrence
Came falling from the sky
Joy and her friend Jef
Were merely riding by
A road construction worker
Fell from a bridge on high

She thought her friend was dead
So much blood was all around
The roof had buckled inwards
With a devastating sound
But the blood was from the faller
The friends each other found

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

She studied to teach Spanish
High school teacher through and through
The students they all loved her
It was what she loved to do
Until they took that fateful trip
With tragedy so true

They went to Costa Rica
To take in all the sights
They learned and shared so much
Through several days and nights
The last day they went rafting
Beyond the city lights

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

But the rapids were unkind
And though she was a swimmer
She might’ve tried to save a man
And dove without a glimmer
Of what was waiting for her
Or how she’d not remember

Afterwards her brain was lost
Her care was everything
Our mother took the lion’s share
With all of us helping
Until our mommie’s heart did fail
Sister Q the new life ring

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

My sisters they were sleeping
When death came to entice
It shook the worlds foundation
With vengeance and with vice
Such devastating power
Crashing walls like paper rice

Kess my youngest sister
Was just two rooms away
As walls came falling down
And plumbing broke to spray
Dust and smoke were flying
As she ran into the fray

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And followed her inside

In the air to Mexico
I heard not the alarm
Ringing through the stratosphere
Our Joy has come to harm
My feet kissed foreign soil
As the world lost all its charm

My anger is an unhinged beast
Wants to destroy that man
Who stole my sister from this world
Without a thought or plan
I want to hit him with a truck
And end him if I can.

To oceans and rivers
She was forever tied
To water and drowning
To death that ever lied
Until it drove a pickup truck
And BURIED her inside

And yet all around my rage
Such blessings do abound
Joy would see the joy in it
Just stop and look around
For as she’d say in her own way
They always can be found