the hunt

Image
Purple and Green|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I hunt for
morning dew
dripping from the
purple pricked
by the greens.

I find it,
clip it to my chest
and wear it with
pride.

It was a good day.
I didn’t lose my
mind and
was no witness
to death.

Non-Fiction Saturdays

I Am No Legend

mixkit-view-of-a-night-sky-in-the-city-139-desktop-wallpaper
Art by Lauren Bending via Mixkit.co

I thought I would wake up to a ghost town–to people actually abiding by the suggestions of experts and personnel equipped to follow and track COVID-19, however, restrictions are being avoided and noses are pointed upwards at them in defiance as if to say, “This is my life. To hell with you people telling me what to do with it!” As of Friday, March 20, 2020, the state of North Carolina had 137 cases of COVID-19 and the numbers are steadily rising.

Heading out to work, the roads are still as busy as they have ever been, however, when I pull into my organization’s parking lot, there are fewer cars parked–fewer patients are keeping their appointments. We actually had several walk-in X-rays today and I thought to myself, “Why the hell are you guys even here? It’s not emergent. The back pain that you’ve had for years now can wait for two more weeks.” Then, I thought–“It’s calm now. The storm hasn’t hit. People are getting everything done before they actually aren’t able to do so for quite a long while.”

I understand the rebellion, but I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, if that makes sense. This is not something people can see, touch, or control–it hasn’t directly affected us with a vengeance yet, so most are testing it. Most want to know if it’s REALLY real. And I am over here silently screaming to myself, but also to these people, “JUST LOOK AT THE NUMBERS, PEOPLE! WE MUST DO WHAT WE CAN TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF THIS THING!” I imagine myself not being heard–a voiceless voice in the crowd, sheltered by disobedient adult-children who fear they will not get their way.


 

SyFy.com

Really, if I am honest, this reminds me a bit of I Am Legend. Of course, we don’t have the undead seeking out our blood, fearful of the light of day or ultraviolet rays, but we have a virus, a contagion, sweeping our nation in droves, and I think acting on the side of caution is wise. At this very moment, there are at least five people outside my building, huddled together, talking and laughing–having a good old time. I have my windows up for a good, night breeze, and I hear them. I wonder how many of them have even done what they have been advised to do. How many of them in their group are preparing for what could be the wildest thing we have ever experienced?

The dog and I cuddle together on my big chair like we do most nights. I turn to a good movie or read a book or we relax in the beauty of the essence of each other and we keep our distance from others. I walk her, speak to my neighbors in passing, and we come straight home. If I did not have to work, I would not leave my apartment, save for the duty of walking the Little Monster. I have my essentials. I have all that I need to survive for two-three weeks without having to go to the grocery store.

As much as I can, I am adhering to the advice and to the restrictions. Due to my job, as of today, I still have to work. We still have healthcare to provide. Our docket is not made up of only emergent cases as we have been advised to have, however, we have pared-down our schedule and many patients have canceled their appointments. I have to work tomorrow and it is a very short day. I will start my day there at the gig at 06:15 am and will prayerfully end it before 13:00 pm.

I have this feeling that when I get to work, not all sixteen patients who were on the docket before I left will be there. I have a feeling the number will be around nine patients. We shall see.

Be safe. Be careful. Abide by the restrictions implemented. Take care of yourselves, people. Peace.


 

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Corona, Corona

Musical Selection: Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley|Thanks for My Child

Corona, Corona

Knowing Unknown

I know not the pain a mother feels,
the concern or worry
releasing her child
into a world that
plagues, disrupts, bends, & changes
without c a u s e
the torture it must lay
on her heart, the constant
ripping of it breaking
from her body,
shattering to the ground
left in pieces.

she stands at the window
eyes watching the cars
counting them as they pass . . .
which one will carry
death to her door?
a phone call after
every shift — the sound of
a familiar voice, letting
her know the day is done.

there is no sleep, she presses
her hands against the wall,
feels the pulse of
the room on the other side
and wishes her child
was within reach,
far away from the
d a m a g e s
of the wicked.
she pulls back
pain instead.

I know not, mother —
how you suffer,
how you kneel on
bruised knees, prayerful
for a positive outcome.
the vessels from your womb,
servicing in places many
miles away from you,
wear their wounds proudly.
yet, you still harbor
fear, unable to dissect
the discomfort or turmoil
and remove them from
your soul.

I know not . . .
I cannot know.


Originally published via Medium.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Grief

It Comes When You Don’t Want It

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova via Unsplash

When you’re shopping. When you’re on an important phone call. When you’re at your youngest child’s soccer game. When you’re cleaning up the house . . . It strikes without warning and all you can do is succumb to it. All you can do is let it grab you and swallow you whole and try to breathe in breaks, counting to ten, and allow yourself the chance to be overcome by a force much stronger than you. This is what happened to a patient I was registering for a particular scan on Wednesday, March 04, 2020. A certain phrase triggered her and she shook her head quickly, held up a hand to me as if to say, “Please, just give me a moment,” and then the tears flooded her face.

I respect life. I honor death. I give grief the space it needs. I directed her to the box of Kleenex to her left and advised her to “Please, take your time, ma’am.” She wiped her face, huffed out a regretful sigh, and began to explain to me that her husband died three weeks ago. It’s still fresh, you see. She isn’t used to the frequent interruptions that her heart issues to her because life is still trying to go on, however, she is feeling stuck.

She took the tissue and dabbed at her eyes. She talked while I listened. I went over her medical information, the purpose for her scan, verified her demographics, then gave her a little more time to be in that space. That space was comforting. It was necessary for the moment. And me — this stranger she met at an imaging center preparing her for what’s to come is now apart of her growth.

She apologized profusely and I looked at her with a clear intent to demonstrate that there was no need for an apology. I asked her if she needed more time before we pressed on and she told me that she was okay — we could continue. I finished the registration process, slipped a wristband on her left wrist, and directed her to the waiting room where she would be called for her scan. I asked her before saying goodbye if I could hug her. She nodded yes, and I lifted myself up from my chair, walked around to the patient lobby, and pulled her in for a long, tight hug.

The tears came quicker then, but this time, she did not apologize. I told her that I wished her well — I wanted peace to be something she could gain and soon. She thanked me and we ended our time together. I have never been married. I cannot tell you what it feels like to lose a spouse, but I have lost a grandmother, two-great-grandmothers, a grandfather, an aunt, a few cousins, and a couple of close friends. I know that this type of pain — this death pain comes and goes. It never truly ceases.

We cannot time it. We do not have a map for it. We cannot direct it. It comes when it wants and usually when you do not want it to. It sneaks up on you when all you want to do is find sweet rest, but you cannot and eerily enough, it’s almost like grief knows this. It’s as if it knows you want to move on, you want to be lifted up from the belly of the infected beast, but no matter what you do, you are pulled back into its sweaty grip.

The next few people I registered happened to be in line waiting while I interacted with this particular patient and each of them thanked me for what I did. It must have been the look on my face because I thought and I assumed, most would think this way too, that this is how we are to react when someone needs a moment — to give them the time to step back, lose it a bit, and come back to life. There’s still humanity, people — some of us are truly humane.

Grief does not wait for you to get it together. It does not care who is watching. It does not think about the life you have to live after your loved one dies and will never come back. It moves and shakes and hits you when you least expect it. I hugged a patient today. We embraced until she stopped crying and nothing else mattered to me at that moment. Nothing else could have pulled me from what I thought mattered most.

All that mattered is that she knew I cared and I had to show her — I did.


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

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Non-fiction Saturdays

I Don’t Want To Lose My Mind

I watched my paternal Great-Grandmother deteriorate over time. A woman who stood at 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed over 200 pounds. She was the epitome of “a strong tower.” For years, she carried us. We descended from her bloodline, all of us; her eyes piercing through each of our faces — her voice found in mine and a few of my cousins’.

We did not think she would become the person she was before she died but she did. When you watch the woman who helped raise you in her home for the better part of three years lose her sense of self, there is a depth to that which cannot be explained.

Everything about her demanded attention. She was not only vocal, but she also commanded a room with her presence. Her voice would echo long after she left. When she spoke, people listened. I envied that. I knew that when I grew up, I wanted people to listen to me the way they so easily listened to my pistol of a Great-Grandmother.

She married once and never remarried. I did not know my Great-Grandfather. He died while my Dad and his siblings were young. I do know that like my paternal Grandfather, he was an Army man and died before he reached his sixties.

My parents were teenagers when I was born. A bout with lead poisoning landed us a temporary stay with my Great-Grandmother whom I’d learn to call “Grandma Tiggs.”

The following story has been told to me many times . . . Shortly after I ingested paint chips from our apartment’s walls, I became sick and was hospitalized. Grandma Tiggs let me know her advisement to my parents was, “I don’t care what y’all do, but bring my baby to me.” And to her, I went. We all went. And with her, I’d find the beauty of a soul with a hard shell.

She potty-trained me by placing my potty in the living room in front of the television while letting me know that I could not get up until something was in the potty. There, in front of her television, I became familiar with Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and As The World Turns. I snacked on apple and peach slices, whole milk, and homemade ice cream. I could not drink any juice or water until after I cleaned my plate. We ate our meals at the family dining table and nowhere else inside the house.

Her home. Her rules.

She taught Sunday School, was a “Mother” in our small church and swam at our local YMCA to relax and strengthen her muscles when she got older. I recall being in Grandma Tiggs’ Sunday School class and not only did I learn more to add to what I had already been taught in her home, but I also grew to respect her at an entirely different level.

We would begin our class by singing Jesus Loves The Little Children and end it with Jesus Loves Me. There was no favoritism issue toward me. If anything, I had to show and prove myself more than my peers. She expected that.


Photo by Malcolm Lightbody via Unsplash

Every Sunday after church, we’d have dinner at her place. My family, all of us, gathered at her table with growling bellies and mouths watering from the various delicious smells from her kitchen. We would wait until she plopped her buttocks down in her seat at the head of the table. She was our matriarch — she blessed our food.

When I went to college, I came home every other weekend and one of my pastimes would be sitting on Grandma Tiggs’ porch with her and talking. This, I did for three years. Right before my fourth year, my Great-Grandmother started showing signs of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.

Little things like my name, if I wore glasses or not, where I was born, if I used to live with her, what her address was, where she was born, etc. were foreign to her. There would be moments of lucidity but they did not last long. The disease became so crippling that her remaining living children made the decision to place her in the care of a small facility where a home health nurse and her team took on salvaging the last of Grandma Tiggs’ mind as best as they could. This is to say, they made her shift into this new era easier to bear.

She was leaving us. There would be no turning back.

I visited her. I had to make an appointment in advance. Our days became Friday or Saturday whenever I came home for a particular weekend. At first, she knew who I was. She would sit and hold my hand — pat my leg while I spoke. We would have what seemed like hours of memorable conversation. Soon after, we fell into the comforts of our past, she’d forget who I was or call me by one of my older cousin’s names.

There were many moments that I had to fight off tears because she would be escorted away from me if she stirred up the environment. I was often frightened by her behavior, however, I had to remind myself that within that withering body with the twin-like withering brain was my life-source, my Great-Grandmother.


Photo by Nashua Volquez via Pexels

I watched this tower of a woman turn into a rude, senseless, and ruthless flailing spirit. I still cannot put into words what it feels like. I realize upon writing this that there are many moments I repressed because they are too painful to recall.

Grandma Tiggs died when she was eighty-five years old. Her funeral was a home-going celebration in a church full of devoted and loyal family members and friends. It was a detrimental period of my life — her passing. For years, I would be reminded of just how quickly her mind faded and how she left me longing for more of her and her presence.

My Grandmother, Grandma Tiggs’ second oldest child is eighty-four and while she is still fully capable of making certain decisions and living on her own, she too began showing signs of some form of dementia two years ago. Gradually, her demeanor is shifting from peaceful and mild-mannered to impatient and outlandish.

She repeats herself. She forgets to turn the stove off. She refuses to listen to members of authority in certain situations. She is adamant about not moving away from her current living space and will let you know in a heartbeat that she is still very much in control.

But, she is not.

I have watched the women in my life lose their faculties, their primal sense of being and purpose, and personalities too. The one thing I fear about aging is losing my sense of self — losing my mind. It terrifies me because I have seen what can happen. I know what outcome lies ahead. I have no children to care for me or ensure my safety. Who will come to my aid?

I don’t want to leave this world a shell of a person. But I don’t get to plan the way I will die or what may cause my death. I can only hope that any major changes or disturbances won’t break the hearts of those I love who may outlive me.

I want to be a good memory for them. I hope I will be.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

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