You should still be here (rough draft)

I remember your brown eyes and how they were usually sad. And I remember that you tried. You tried so hard. You lamented over the weight gain due to typical antipsychotics amongst all the other side effects. You were always positive, even when you were struggling the most. You were kind, heartwrenchingly kind. You followed every direction your doctors gave you to the nth degree. You took all right steps: exercise, fish oil pills, diet, sleep, getting a job, maintaining a support network of peers, family, and professionals.

You should still be here.

It should have been better for you. You should have gotten your happiness. I wonder where it all went wrong, or maybe it never got better, enough. I want a thing or a person to blame. I want to know why. I want to know why you’re not here.

You should still be here.

I am so angry. Not at you, but the disease, the darkness. Someone should have been holding your hand that night, talking you out of sharp edges and bleeding out. I would have held your hand. I would have told you, promised you, that it gets better. I would have reminded you that the disease lies just as easily as it steals, but it DOES GET BETTER. It WILL get better. It would’ve gotten better.

You should still be here.

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A eulogy

He was a Marine. First, foremost, and always. He wasn’t ever going to tell you about it, but you could see it and hear it. I remember his anger and his hand like a vise on my child sized arm. I know my mother’s stories, knowing I will never know the extent of the terror and fear he inflicted upon my mother and her family. The neuroscientist in me now recognizes the symptoms of PTSD and TBI in a WWII veteran, and know it had a hand in this. Explosive, incendiary anger, the need for control, the drinking, rigidity, the black and white thinking, the knife hand while yelling at your children and grandchildren for not intuiting your rules and regulations. The time you were only 18 months old and got in trouble for making a mess with your spaghetti. The olive green canteens of liquor that came along with your grandfather whenever he visited you in Texas. Knowing so much of what went on in your mother’s childhood, but still knowing you know only a fraction of the story and there are much darker things that will perhaps grow a little less dark with your grandfather’s passing. One time, your mother let slip that your grandfather hit her in front of your dad when they were first married and no one, certainly not your father, did or said anything. No one ever said or did anything. These things are secrets to all but a select few.

And then, the side of the man that was completely comical and charismatic. The man that would tell ridiculous stories and say ridiculous things just make me and my brother giggle as small children. The man who was always polite, who believed adamantly things like in pulling out a woman’s chair for her, and always did the right thing–with strangers and friends. When my grandmother was dying, he softened and started telling stories I’d never heard before. Stories about him and “Syl”. Even stories about the war.  There’s a distinct feeling that the world outside of our family knows him as a completely different person and it’s these different people that I’m trying to make sense of now that that the man himself is gone. I wonder about the man before Guadalcanal and if he was any different from the grandfather I knew. I read his letters, letters to and from other Marines depicting lightness and carmaraderie that I never knew my grandfather was capable of. When did he change? Did he change? How did my grandmother end up with him? She must have seen SOMETHING. I do know that somehow, there’s still a hole, there’s still loss, despite all the things you know—you still shed tears for this man, who could be so monstrous, who WAS so monstrous and yet just a man.

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Risk Assessment

I have been thinking about what it would take for our reconciliation.

Clearly, it’s not calling me on Christmas expecting me to answer because well you know Jesus and Christmas spirit. You have never known your daughter well.

I decided 2 years ago that you couldn’t buy me anymore either because the price was too high for what I was getting.

So I’m starting a list.

1. Admit it

You cheated, you lied, you stole, then you lied (and continue to lie) about cheating, lying, and stealing.

The first time you left, I was 6. I don’t really remember this but I attribute this to my mother doing another one of her expert cover up jobs for you.
Then you disappeared for a year to live in Chicago with one of your mistresses. This one I remember. I remember you saying you didn’t want a family anymore. I remember my grief stricken little brother being told that he had to be the man of the house now–at 7-8 years old. I remember my role as my mother’s confidante intensifying. From that moment on, I would know everything that happened between you two.
You are currently married to one of said mistresses. You moved to California and immediately stopped spending holidays with your children.

You were absent (at best) my entire life. There are stories upon stories about you stored in my memory, but they mostly involve you just not being there when everyone else was.

You took what wasn’t yours by way of spending my college fund and then puzzled over why I didn’t finish school earlier. You stole from my mother and your son, but left him enough to get by and then paid for his education out of your pocket.

Newflash: when your dad makes a shit ton of money and is still claiming you on his taxes, it’s awfully difficult to get financial aid and when you’re suffering from a chronic illness, it’s not easy to just go get a job that would make enough money to pay for tuition.

And it’s not even boo hoo, I had to get financial aid to pay for college–that’s not even the issue. It’s the dishonesty, the selfishness, and the going behind everyone’s back to spend your child’s college money rather than your own enormous paycheck. I planned as if I would have that money and to have it be gone at the very last minute–it made things very different and much more difficult. I would be finished with college and financially independent if not for this cycle of promises and retractions of said promises. Life would be drastically different for the better.

If you could only admit to even 1 or 2 of your mistakes, we could move forward. I wouldn’t feel as if you thought everything you’d done was okay. Hell, I’d know that you were at least aware of your own actions.

I know, dad. I know your own mother was fucking crazy and you probably have some attachment disorder going on that has never been addressed. I know you’re inherently anxious and nervous, worried about fitting in and succeeding. I know I scare you, I know I embarrass you with my honesty and political opinions, my lack of blonde hair and a size 2 waist and a business degree.

You have never known what to do with me because you don’t understand that all you ever had to do was just be and we would work it out from there. I’m messy, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, I’m not like anyone else, I’m not like you–but I’m kind, I work hard, and I love humanity and the world fiercely. I know you don’t understand it. It doesn’t make financial sense to you. You can’t predict me with an Excel spreadsheet and a line graph. I wear clothes from Walmart and Target and drive a sensible car, I don’t have anything I can wear to be admitted to one of the country clubs you belong to.

We are polar opposites. You are metal and I’m nonmetal. You are non polar and I’m polar. But I still see you, Dad. I see your good parts and I know that you are not all bad.

I just can’t afford you anymore.

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I try so hard not to want love
Love is for pussies and needy bitches
I just need pieces fitting together
heat and friction in regular doses
a few laughs a few good beers
Except while I’m laughing, I still look for love
listen for it, wish that it was here already
maybe if I look around every 90 degree angle, it’ll appear
you’ll appear
a partner, an XY to my XX
a bond with a pulse so strong that sometimes you can feel it in the ground we walk on
a wise man once told me to wait for the right one
the right one will low crawl naked through broken glass just to drink your bathwater
so I guess I should start taking baths.

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You are an amazing and wonderful human at heart. This will always be true.

You have been ill, angry, and depressed for years. 2014 was so much more than what you claim. You also remarried one of your abusers and fought to divorce him for the second time, shooting yourself in the foot many times along the way.

I hope your therapist is well versed in borderline and eating disorders. I hope they can sort the truth from what you think is the truth. I hope these new positive people in your life can support you and call you on your bullshit whenever necessary. You once provided the same for me.

I don’t know what really happened. I only know I responded to a call for help, because you were threatening suicide, you had ordered a gun and you were going to use it on yourself. And this happened more than once. You threatened to commit suicide in unspeakable ways.

I am angry that you twisted my words and actions into something that never existed. You called me racist, privileged, enabling your alleged rapist, amongst many other things that could never be possible.

But as much anger and hurt as I feel, I still miss you. Things happen, and sometimes my first thought is to tell you because you’re the only one who would understand. Then I remember you hate me for things I never did but for things you twisted and fabricated out of nothing. I know that if you ever read this, you would still think I was some disgusting traitor. I know that I’ll never understand this completely and that has to be okay for now.

And really, as long as you’re okay, like really okay, not some barely holding on pretending to be okay okay, then I’m happy. All I ever wanted for you was for you to stop hating yourself and love yourself like everyone else who knows you does.

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Missing in Action


One father
Flew over an ocean of solid earth for the golden coast
The permanent business trip away from home
New address
New bride
New story
Everything sleek, white, presentable

One mother
Neurons twisted
identity forgotten
voice lost

Two brothers
One in the ground
The other above
Buried himself years ago

One sister
Shut her ears
Shut her eyes
And her heart
Slammed the door
Forgot it all
And believed everything that could never be true

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I’m not Scared of Anything

I’m not scared of the sight of blood, mine or yours

deep wounds in flesh with bone shining through


riding at breakneck speeds

broken bones

tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires

critical conditions

snake bites




being cut open while lying unconscious and paralyzed on the operating table

walking a line drawn in the sands between Awake and Death

Death doesn’t frighten me at all

it’s a familiar face

the fraternal twin of Loss

And Loss has been my dancing partner for years

Before I could walk, I stood on her feet and learned the steps until I was executing the dance on my own two feet

every absence

every leaving

every death

I know these by heart

how to walk through each one and arrive on the other side with my own feet

But you

You terrify me

delight me

you are nothing I’ve ever felt before

I’m not scared of anything but I’m absolutely terrified that you aren’t really real

and if you are

I’m paralyzed waiting for the other shoe to drop

I’m paralyzed anticipating Loss’s arrival



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