Sunday, December 9, 2012


It's strange how being sick while trying to grasp the permanence of a loved one's death leaves you feeling like you will be sick for the rest of your earthly life. In the haze of the achy weakness that entangled me yesterday (after getting the stomach flu the night before), I caught myself almost consciously thinking this. Today, as should be expected, I have mostly recovered. I don't feel relieved about this. I'm not disappointed either. It seems like too small a thing to be concerned with.

I feel ever so very tired. As I try to remember the last few days, I can feel a restrained resistance rising up in me. I say restrained because I feel like it would be wild and desperate and nearly crazy if it weren't held back by my better sense and my love for all my family members and my Grampie. Remembering is good because of them, but still, it's like walking into Kansas wind. Difficult.

I saw his body (his shell, my grandma called it) on Thursday afternoon. The movement of the tears pooled in my eyes made it look like he was breathing. Or maybe, some part of my mind couldn't cope with seeing that face and those hands without any sign of life in them. Perhaps, it created a perceptual distortion to try to override reality. It was incredibly surreal.
Surreal is one of my favorite words and one of my least favorite. The dictionary defines surreal as 'having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream,' but if prefixes have any real meaning, the definition should literally be 'above reality' or 'with something in addition to reality.' It is more than reality. It is strong elements of reality mixed with strong elements of dreams or wishes or falsities. This sometimes results in a pleasant, magical kind of experience and often results in the uncomfortable disorientation you would expect when what you know is real is being countered by what you think might be a dream or a hope. I tend to experience surreal as magic: strange, exciting, and enchanting. I tend to like hopes and dreams better than reality, without being wholly given over to them, so it is kind of delightful when real and better-than-real are mixed in together. The combination creates both 'above reality' and 'in addition to reality.'
Seeing him (without him) was obviously the disorienting, intensely unsettling kind of surreal experience. It took me most of the time that we were there that afternoon to see the stillness in his shell and to recognize that my real hope was not that he was just sleeping, but that he is in glory with my dear, sweet King Jesus. I love my Jesus as my Hope. I am so deeply jealous of Grampie - that he gets to be with Father and Jesus, so close to them. At the same time, my heart is uplifted, rejoicing that my Jesus gets to be with his beloved Glenn. This joy is not the joy that happens to you when something nice occurs or the joy that you muster up for others when something nice occurs for them. It is a full-grown joy put inside of me.
(Okay, I know probably two or less people will read this, but I still feel the need to insert this disclaimer: I don't know if we go to be with Jesus immediately after we die or not. That seems sort of hazy. I do kind of feel though, vaguely and without any scriptural back up, that time is less important once we die, so somehow, everything I've said basically works in my mind).
It seems sort of contradictory to continue to talk about grief now that I've talked about joy, but feeling something positive in connection with someone's death doesn't dissolve the grief - all the sadness and confusion and frustration and heaviness of losing them and missing them, temporarily or not. So I continue.

I keep oscillating between the knowledge of reality and something that must be denial. I know that he's gone, but most of the time, I'm not ready to believe that he's gone. I want to believe that he's still in hospital, and he'll get better and come home soon. But I can't believe that anymore. I'm not allowed to. Sanity and Reality and Death have teamed up and deemed it so.
And so, I swing. I teeter-totter, up and down, and swing, back and forth between accepting reality and hating it. Half my life is unsettlingly surreal - shooting up towards the sky on the see-saw or curving backward on the swing. I've always found those sensations, those movements, disorienting and abnormal. I just want to leave the playground and go home.

I can't believe it hasn't even been a week since I held his hand. It's been so long.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I feel chaotically empty.

I want to write something beautiful and profound, more for my own comfort than anything else, but I don't have anything in me. I'm only writing because I wanted to write daily for as long as I can while this grief is present, but I am so very, very empty, and words mean so very, very little (and so much, when they come from others).
I want to say nice things. I want to talk about nice, heart-warming memories of my Grampie, like how he used to make cream of wheat with "all the fixings" (brown sugar and half-and-half) in the morning when we'd stay the night, how he'd hug us and rub his scratchy face on our little faces when he needed to shave, how he'd hand out the presents every Christmas Eve. But remembering is so hard right now, and it doesn't make any sense.
I don't know why it doesn't make sense, but it doesn't. It feels backward and inside-out and upside-down and weird. Nothing makes any sense right now.

Everything feels backward and inside-out and upside-down and weird.

 I don't feel like I have anything to feel. I don't feel numb. I don't feel shock. I don't feel angry. I don't feel sad. I don't feel relieved. I don't feel sorry.
But I do feel them. I feel all of them. I feel everything.
I feel tired, and I feel confused. I even feel embarrassed. I feel frustrated.

But mostly, I don't. Mostly, things just keep happening, and I just kind of happen with them.


I've thought about it all day without thinking about it at all.

Because I know I have to keep going. I need to keep my head clear. I just have three more papers and four more tests, and then I can think.

Once all this thinking is done, I can really think.

Monday, December 3, 2012


When I was little, Melody and I would turn our little selves upside down on the couch, the tips of our fine hair touching the carpet, while Grampie, sitting next to us, would tease and tickle us.
I feel a little upside down now.

When I saw him in the hospital last night, I knew he would probably leave us soon. He looked so much more restful then than he had that morning. I kissed his head and told him I loved him.
When I saw him in the nursing home the second time, I knew I would probably never hear his voice again. I don't even know what the last thing I heard him say was.
After he fell last year, I knew I would probably never walk around the lake with him again. When I moved in with him and Grangy for my freshman year of college, he walked around the lake every morning. Sometimes, I walked with him, and he would tell me stories about all the people he had known in all the places he had lived. We would walk to Quik Trip, and he would buy 'cappuccinos' for us.
When was the last time he smiled? When was the last time he hugged me?

Phrases of Christmas songs keep turning oddly in my mind.
"The fire is slowly dying, and my dear, we're still goodbye-ing..."
It seems to me that Grampie is that fire, and it is him we are goodbye-ing. I should say 'was' and 'were,' because the last glowing embers have gone out. But I am still goodbye-ing inside.

It's strange and disconcerting how grief comes in waves. For several hours, I'll feel fine. Then it'll crash into me, like a breaker reaching, rushing for the shore, seeping into the sand, fizzling into foam, and ending quietly. If a child sitting on a beach playing in the wet sand were washed over by such a wave, she would feel the same as I - the wind knocked out of her and her stomach churning from the mouthfuls of seawater accidentally swallowed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I wrote, "Last night, I was with a friend. We were supposed to be working on a school project, but we spent most of the time talking about his concern for a good friend of his and how he could best help her, what he could say to her. In that time, I saw, as Sawako (Kimi ni Todoke) would say, a new face of his. I saw my friend's face toward his good friend. It was full of care and driven to be the best friend he could be for her. It was amazing in a quiet, exciting kind of way. I felt honored to be trusted as his friend to see that face.
'How honored and loved I am,' I thought, reflecting on my experience, 'to be someone to whom Jesus will show his face towards his precious friends.'"

Friday, August 17, 2012


Today, I nearly slipped into the pit. I caught myself, but for one terrifying moment, I teetered on the edge, the chasm widening before me - not the eager darkness of despair, but the empty gray of vague, though heavy, sorrow. I stepped back, shaking from the close call and from its surprising nearness.

"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

"As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!"

Psalm 40:2, 11

Monday, July 30, 2012


I want to do the right thing to make bad things better - just to play my part.
Sometimes, in playing my part, I begin to act, think, feel like I wrote my part - that I wrote the play. I act, think, feel like I must be the one to make things better. It's all up to me. Responsible. Proud. Desperate.
I get so down, so disheartened when the things I do fail to fix things. And frustrated - I feel so frustrated. Why isn't anything going my way?
Because I don't fix things. I'm not meant to fix things. I'm not made to fix things.

I'm meant to trust. I'm made to love.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


To Those Who Saved My Life:

Thank you.
I don't know if I would have committed suicide if you weren't there  I never really considered it. At times, I wanted to die, but your support and love made me want to live – to conquer and live. Your love for me was my love for life. This is how you saved my life.

To B.B.:
Thank you for being there for me from the first scratch. Thank you for being someone who noticed and asked and kept asking and noticing. Thank you for being someone to whom I could tell the truth, and thank you for always pointing me to the Truth. I cannot imagine how you suffered – you were truly loyal, and I know that I asked you to bear heavy burdens. You held steady for me though I know it must have taxed you so. I'm sorry for the harsh words I sometimes said to you; thank you for understanding.
I remember when I was trying to stop, when I went for three weeks without cutting, and you wanted to throw a party for me. That meant so much to me. It reminds me of Jesus and how absolutely pleased, how enraptured He is with our weak yes – how delighted He is when we get back up, no matter how feebly and no matter how many times we fall.
Your friendship to me during that time was invaluable. I am so happy to see you happy now.

To G.H. and D.H.:
Thank you for trying so hard and hurting so much for me. Thank you for taking me seriously and for getting me help.

To K.S.:
Thank you for being so full of life and love and understanding. I was so scared back then, but your smile was like sunshine to me – warm and hopeful. I remember the day I left class crying, and you found me later and asked if I was alright; you smiled, and you hugged me. When I was with you, I felt normal because you treated me like I was normal. When we went on our first trip together, and I told you at three in the morning about my battle with depression and cutting, you just listened and worked to understand. You didn't take anything I said for granted – you asked questions. I was so happy to be by your side and joke and laugh together. Thank you for knowing me. Thank you for being you – I love you so much.
Thank you so much.
P.S. I miss you. Lettuce hang out.

To T.L.:
Thank you for not being horrified when I showed you my scars and scabs. I was terrified to show you because my own heart was so weak – I couldn't say it with words. I saw a struggle on your face for a moment after I pulled back my sleeve, but it resolved into kind calmness, and you nodded.
How young we were then! You were a tremendous friend – strong, accepting, focused. I know how surprised you were when I gave you my blades. Your response still kind of amazes me: "Heather, are you sure?"
I said, "Yes. I want to get rid of them."
"Okay, I'll destroy them. I'll put them through the garbage disposal." You grinned then. "Well, maybe not. But I'll destroy them." You were so zealous; it reminds me of Jesus and how completely He consumes everything meant to harm us when we are certain that we want to let them go. Isn't He brilliant? Like all the suns in the universe.
When you spoke about me to other people, I felt respected, and I needed that. I laid so much on you as well – thank you so much for holding it. It meant my life to me.
P.S. Congratulations! I haven't gotten to say it yet, but I am very happy for you and the Mrs.!

To M.B.:
Thank you for so carelessly remarking that if I were an emo, I'd have scars on my arms just before I defiantly showed you the scars on my arm. That was the first time I'd shown anyone without feeling afraid, and even though you apologized over and over, I'm not sure you'll ever know how important that moment was to me. I'm sorry I spoke so angrily to you then – I wasn't really angry. Thank you for bearing it and for caring and emailing me from so far away. Thank you for reading my poetry. Thank you for asking, listening, loving, and offering to be my shoulder to cry on. You were an incredibly important part of my healing.

To M.H.:
Thank you for being there and for doing what you had to to cope with (and help me cope with) my sickness. I wish you wholeness now. I love you more than I could ever say.

To J.W.:
You were my North Star. Looking back, I don't know what it was about you then, but you inspired me to live. When I watched you, I knew that I wanted to get better, and I knew that I could. Maybe the future was somehow shining through you – you are indeed my bright star, my favorite and my best. You were with me on one of the most important anniversaries of my life then – January 31 – and you sat by as I buried that past forever. We walked then and talked, and I healed.
Thank you for everything you've ever done for me. Beyond even that, thank you for being you – you saved my life by being yourself. I love you.

To my Jesus:
Thank you for placing each of these and so many others in my life. Thank you for Love and Healing and Life. Thank you for Yourself.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Remember when you used to sit and watch me play piano? I couldn't play much, and you said I was amazing. You had your life, and you loved somebody. I was grateful to watch you mark out your path and slowly take those steps away from where I was. I think I was a guardian spirit. Maybe that's what I thought.

And then, you two - I sat and watched you play piano. Remember that? You both told me you'd played for 10 years. I said you were pretty good. Your music made my head swell like a hot air balloon, and my heart would float up beneath it - resting, peaceful. From there, I could see my whole life, and I could understand it. I think you were kindred spirits, open souls.

And finally, my dear, you - I sat and watched you play piano; you play it rarely. The notes you touched spoke of a future - an uncertain, certainly beautiful life. I saw a road stretched out in front of me, and I felt hope - and love. Your music made my heart swell. I thought you were my guardian spirit.

But I was wrong. You are a real person with a warm, beating heart.

Written August 11, 2010.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Often, when people hear me speaking, I get the decided impression that they are not understanding what I am saying. Well, I mean, they understand what I am saying, just not what I am talking about. I can ramble on and on about things which many people don't seem to understand and fewer still would actually care about. I know a lot of things, and I'm interested in strange things. I like biology and brain cells and hormones and neurotransmitters and nutrition and drugs and cellular respiration, and I often make the mistake of talking about these things, assuming that other people understand and care about these things too. I'm also interested in languages and grammar and writing and speaking properly. The way the structure of a language reflects on the culture in which it is used fascinates me. I forget that other people don't really find this at all interesting. I like literature and alliteration and poetry and style, and I love to read. I've read more books than many of the people I know. I've found that, on average, most of the people I know don't really care to compare the styles of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (outside of C.S. Lewis class) or discuss The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or The Bodysnatchers by Robert Louis Stevenson. Hardly anyone cares at all about how dead Jacob Marley was, and very few of the people I know really think that the bit about the doornail and the coffin nail is really all that funny. I think it's hilarious. I like philosophy and theology; though I hardly know anything about them, it seems the things I do know are sufficient to bore people to sleep.

Okay, so I exaggerate a little. I've never had anyone fall asleep while I was talking to them - that I'm aware of. I think my main problem is not really that other people don't care about these things; it'd be very unfair to say that no one cares about these things or laughs at the bit about the coffin nail - I'm sure that there are plenty of people with whom I interact every single day who were as creeped out by The Bodysnatchers as I was. It's just that (1) I am not around the people that do care at the same time that I am thinking about such things, and (2) when I am (or am not), I just say what I'm thinking without first finding out by some means whether the other person is even remotely interested in the subject. Then, I often just jump into the topic assuming that they know something of what I am talking about. Like C.S. Lewis, instead if asking someone if they've read anything by a certain poet, I'll ask them which of his poems is their favorite. I think I just have a hard tine conceiving that other people may not be interested in the same things as me or have had the same opportunities. I understand that in theory, but as soon as I start speaking about something as interesting as enzymes, I forget it. I am also very impulsive. Sometimes, the very moment a thought enters my head, it comes out my mouth. I never know when a question such as "Did you know that too much vitamin A in its pure form can kill you but high levels of beta carotene is perfectly alright?" or "What do you think about Zoroastrianism?" may come spewing out of my mouth.

This happens often in conversation where the other person is talking about something completely different. They'll be talking about algebra, which reminds me of my algebra instructor from Butler and how he said, "I know that for some people, algebra is like what French was for me," which will remind me that I had thought about going to France this summer - Paris or Bordeaux? - and Paris reminds me of Les Miserables, so I'll ask if they've seen it. This all happens in a split second, of course, so the conversation actually goes like this:
Other: "Man, I have so much algebra homework."
Me: "I took that class at Butler. Have you ever seen Les Miserables? On stage, I mean. Not the movie."

Sometimes, my "tactful" acknowledgment-of-what-you-just-said sentence isn't even there. So the conversation will look like this:
Other: "Man, I have so much algebra homework."
Me: "Les Mis is my favorite musical. Have you seen it?"

Sometimes, I can take a cue that they're not interested, and sometimes, I notice it and ignore it to avoid the awkward silences and stares that follow my interjections. Sometimes, I don't notice at all. "The cool thing about beta carotene is that it is also a coloring agent. It makes stuff orange and yellow. If you eat a ton of it, you'll actually turn orange. But not very much because you'd have to eat a whole ton, and your body is pretty efficient at cleaning out unneeded things. And if you do turn orange, it's not permanent, of course. It's just like babies with jaundice. They don't stay yellow forever. I bet the Oompa Loompas' diet is high in beta carotene. . . ."

I think the most disappointing thing is just that sometimes I get really excited about an idea, and no one really gets it. When I was a teenager, I traveled with some friends to pick up a mutual friend on her return from a trip to Russia. On the way back, I suddenly understood or wondered something about the nature of love and its different manifest types. I voiced my idea out loud, doing my best to explain it well. They didn't get it. I tried again. One of my friends said it was too complicated and started joking about something else with one of the other girls. The woman which was driving us said that my thought had been too abstract for them. She said it kindly, but I was crushed.

In the end, I just don't talk much to anyone. I want to, but it gets awkward, and then I feel weird and separate.
But I'll get the hang of it someday.

Speaking of hang. . . check this out!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Subside: The End of Things 

Open and close your mouth like a little fish.
Cough it out.
Remember other things.

The expression of her face was noble. It was a great deal too noble. Greatness, tragedy, high sentiment--these were obviously what occupied her thoughts. ... By earthly standards, an expression to be praised, even to be revered: but remembering all that he had read in her countenance before, the unselfconscious radiance, the frolic sanctity, the depth of stillness that reminded him sometimes of infancy and sometimes of extreme old age while the hard youth and valiancy of face and body denied both, he found this new expression horrifying.
Perelandra, C.S. Lewis, excerpt from chapter ten
 O Queen, how I envy and hate you,
with your painted face,
expression made noble
 and tragic -
so high and perfect -
a goddess,
a dream.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


What is Meant by Waking Dreams

relax your shoulders into your spine
collapse like wings.
all my thoughts are random
with no rhythm or reason -
or is it rhyme? -
nothing like song
or like mathematics -
nothing you learn in school.
rather, this is something found
when listening to the sound of air standing still
while you sweep past on a swing
or down a slide.

this morning, I was on the road before the spaceships
came to pick up the children;
the sky was aureate-purple
early sunlight diffused and catching
the molecules of various atmospheric gases
and being transformed by them.
I knew that later the sun would rise
transforming dull gold into sparkling diamonds
dripping off the grass by the shuttle stop.

when I was a child, they would dart
around the red plastic flowers on the feeder.
what must the world look like to a hummingbird?
would it move as slowly as mine?
perhaps they feel as if they are floating
through a softly blurred field
in spite of moving so fast -
because they move so fast -
humming meditatively.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


There are songs which captivate me, quiet my mind, and hold me still. They are so deeply affective, so compelling, so beautiful and alive, I can't speak or think; I can hardly move. All I can do is feel. It isn't even listening. Listening requires thought, some kind of intentional engagement. These songs carry me through attention - beyond.
The music becomes an experience, a world of its own, colored by something deeper than emotions, more real than the senses. I can feel the elysian wind of this world in my hair and smell the bright grass, the dusty trees, the sweet flowers. . . . The air tastes new, fresh - like the crispness of cold, clear water. I feel grief and joy and yearning - pure and unadulterated. I am moved beyond movement.
I feel old, as if I've seen and known everything there is to know in this place. So full, so stained by time, my skin feels thin - stretched to hold each past moment - not as memories, but as whole experiences. I feel young, as if every smell, every sound, every sensation, and every sentiment were new, untouched, unexplored. I soak it in without a thought; it becomes a part of me.
And for minutes, for moments, I do not exist here - only there, part of the organism that the music comprises, breathing as it breathes.
Yet, I sense that the music is only a single entity in a greater field; it is encompassed by grace, love, beauty, and light - by a perfect existence which lacks nothing and in which everything finds its being and its place. I am surrounded by God, who is above all, over all, and in all, perfect in holiness.

My love, you are a song to me.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Maybe time is not as linear as we often think it is. Perhaps we simply progress through it - or it through us, as the case may be - while it stands still - or moves in a single wave, each moment a molecule of water - every single moment happening in one nearly eternal moment, so that at the end of time, all moments cease.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Dry Heave
(or The Problem With This Poem: Being Too Honest and Saying Too Much)

I want to write -
to write something wonderful.
Something eloquent and beautiful,
like the rich, captivating stories Anodos lived and dreamt
in the vast, quiet library of the Fairy Palace.
Something natural and earthy,
 like some dew dazzled bud,
new leaves trembling beneath the weight.
Something compelling and honest,
like a heavy, sweet, soothing concerto,
dripping with grief and anger and beauty,
like Concierto de Aranjuez.
Something old and nostalgic,
like a floral area rug,
border worn down from the friction
of small feet tracing the pattern
around and around, over and over.
Something wise and thoughtful,
like a poem, brief and full,
full like a chalice of wine, shining like liquid garnet,
smooth and bitter and healing.
But I have no such words to write.
I hardly have thoughts, well-rounded and clean thoughts.
I have the broken
fragments of ideas, random bits and
phrases evoked by emotion.
Nothing to grab onto, nothing to grasp, nothing whole.
Reaching, sputtering like a drowning man,
desperate for a lifeline,
lungs burning, chest aching,
I try, testing every line of reasoning I find,
to explain, to rationalize the way I feel.

I'm drifting in an ocean of who knows what.