An evening with Herbert

Buenas Noches Travellers,

This is a very late edition coming to you from the rain drenched plains of Kansas. It’s been raining here everyday for at least five days with no end in sight. By no end, I do mean the forecast for the next two weeks includes rain almost every damn day.

And truly I’m not living on the plains, but rather in the center of a city, which makes what about to say all the more wonderous.

Tonight I arrived home from work to find a most unusual guest on my back terrace.

One little lone duckling waddling along.

As I approached he began feverishly running around. Trying to climb the back step which was twice his height, then trying to run up the siding on the house, then falling down. Then getting up and doing it all over again.

A duckling alone in the city.

Looking like so…

I named him Herbert. Because when I looked at that little face, that’s the name that came to mind.

And obviously I had to catch him because HELLO, dog and cats everywhere here!

I have NO IDEA how he came to be in my backyard as it gated and fenced all around. Did his mother bring him here with his siblings? Had he gotten separated somehow on his own?

We searched the yard, no other ducks in sight. There have never been any ducks in my sight in this neighborhood. Until now.

I’m not gonna lie, part of me gave serious thought to the idea of keeping him. I mean here he was plucked down in my yard in between cloud bursts, don’t we call that fate?

Do I know how to take care of a duck? No, no I do not…

So we called the Wildlife rescue hotline instead and left a message instead. I didn’t expect to receive a call back tonight, so I moved him into the bathtub and set up some kind of livable space for his evening…

He actually seemed to be alright all things considered. Doesn’t he look alright?

I always imagine what life looks like from a smaller animal’s perspective. I must have seemed like a giant that scooped him up into a box with some strange fuzzy thing. And this tub would seem a vast basin of white slickness like he’d never seen before.

I noticed he was shaking, I’m certain he was scared.

I would be scared too, wouldn’t you?

I sat and talked to him and ever so gently touched his back to attempt some kind of reassurance that he was alright.

I’m not sure there is a fear greater for any of us than being completely lost and separated from what you knew to be truly yours.

And since I live almost 14 city blocks away from the nearest body of water or about 7 blocks from the nearby creek, he was far from home, wherever that home may have been.

A nice lady called within an hour of my message asking about him and said she would consult the other lady who worked with her that did more bird rescues and get back to me shortly with instructions to keep him for the night. While I waited I did some online searching and discovered that ducks are not solitary creatures and can easily become depressed or lonely which can make it difficult for them to thrive or survive as ducklings.

It said that they feel loneliness, isolation and grief much like humans do.

The other interesting thing I learned this evening is that ducks, like most other animals, will gladly take in offspring that is not theirs at birth. The nice lady called me back and said she needed to come get him tonight to get him rehomed because he would have a better chance at survival. She planned to take him to that pond I mentioned earlier because other ducks would be there, hopefully a female with ducklings and she would leave him with them.

I have to admit, I’m the skeptic here. Trusting strangers with a super cute duckling that the universe brought to my door isn’t my strong suit, but sometimes you have to do what’s right because it’s right. No guaranteed outcome.

Not a single life here has any guaranteed outcome, does it?

So I packed up my very temporary little duck and said good bye and sent him off into the rainy night with that friendly lady who promised she would find him a new home.

Now let me tell you the weird thing.

This whole event made me think of Dave…There’s a store here called Orscheln Farm & Home that sells farming supplies and each Spring they have Chick & Duck Days. We went several times during our relationship because I loved seeing the chicks and ducklings and holding them. We hadn’t done that in years, but in March he sent me a text with a photo of me holding one of those chicks and asked if I remembered that day. To be honest, he did that half a dozen times before I ever talked to him which angered me and also made me wonder if his life wasn’t as amazing as he thought it was going to be. Otherwise why would you be reminiscing about the woman who you said would be replaced by a better one? I’m going to always wonder if I had said something different, would he be alive still? Was that him reaching out and I failed to see that?

But when I saw this duckling, I realized that strange random wonderous things are still gonna happen in my life.

Because I wasn’t left behind to die, I was left behind to live.

Now if you would all do me this kindness: Pray for Herbert’s safety and long life. Ducks can live up to 20 years and perhaps he and I will meet again someday.

Or send positive energy or whatever you do, just do that…

They say

Good morning Travellers,

It’s a rainy one here. In fact, all week is clouds and rain.

I’m going a little free form today on a rather difficult topic. I’ve been struggling to go through this door, so we’ll see how this goes…

They say, “Time heals all wounds” I’m pretty sure they were just talking about the ones of flesh, blood, and bone. Those things will scab and scar, while our souls do not have the capacity to coagulate. When our deeper selves are wounded, we seem to bleed in such a way sometimes that all the gauze on Earth won’t make it stop.

We apply pressure. We force ourselves forward, we smile when inside we are dying. We deny.

Friends have said to me on more than one occasion during the past seven months since Dave’s suicide that “You are handling this so well.” I don’t know if I am or not. I don’t think humans are equipped to handle this sort of thing. We are not meant to handle this sort of thing.

I still have occasional uncontrollable spells of sobbing at the most inopportune moments. Like walking into a seamstress yesterday, or sitting at my desk at work. Or after watching Toy Story 4. Or standing at my kitchen sink. Or looking into Ramona’s aging eyes and realizing she will never see him again.

My former mom-in-law said she “Imagined my grieving process is complex because we shared good times and bad times together and time apart.” I have to say it’s so much more than that. It’s so much worse. I have the horrendous thought that lurks still inside that if I had been a better wife, he would still be alive. That I am being blamed somewhere. But then I remember he wasn’t a great husband always either. If I had tried harder to make him stay and go to therapy, he would still be here. But he adamantly refused.

Mostly I wish I hadn’t lied for him because I felt like I had to.

Dave was taking a job to be a guard in a jail. And despite our separation, his commanding officer still wanted to talk to me which was beyond uncomfortable. One of the questions he asked was, “Does Dave have any mental proclivities that might affect his ability to do this job?” And I lied, because I said “NO”.

Because I thought he and his family would feel like I was throwing interference. I abandoned myself in that moment. And I also abandoned him in truth. His depression, anxiety and drinking were out of control and he wasn’t going to survive that job, I knew. I knew who he was inside. And I wasn’t alone in that thought.

Dave had said that “God was making this path for him to leave and go to Colorado.” I think back on him saying that the day he left and wonder what the fuck, are you for real? And in my anger, because let’s be honest if someone you love kills themselves, you are going to find anger riding shotgun inside your mind. I wondered in his last moments, did he think that his suicide was part of God’s plan?

A friend of mine has always said that “Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do.” That’s one that really requires some finesse, doesn’t it? I know he had suffered his whole life with persistent severe depression. And for those of us who do not suffer under such things, there is no amount of empathy in the world that really gives true understanding, is there?

Before I met him he had already attempted to take his life. There’s a weird phrase “Taking your life”. I can’t help but think, take it where? Like you folded up your soul like a fine pair of trousers and gentle placed it into a little suitcase and traveled elsewhere?

To be clear, in my opinion, suicide is murder. You are murdering yourself. It is too violent to be described with kinder words. I can’t count the number of thoughts I’ve had about what it means for him to have put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Imagine how the bullet blew out the back of his head. A head that I had touched so many times in gentleness. Shattered is the word. His head and my heart.

Were tears streaming down his face or was he relieved? Did he think we would be relieved? Didn’t he know that this match he was striking was gonna burn down my forest and his parents and his sister and his friends?

How much pain is required to do such a horrible thing when we all loved you so?

I’ve come to believe that suicide a sort of transmogrification. I think the person who ends their life changes those lives around theirs by essentially passing their pain into the people who cared about them.

And I think it’s giving up. He gave up. When he gave up on himself, he gave up on all of us.

Humans aren’t suppose to give up, it’s our fucking super power, don’t you all know that?

Obviously, again, I’m still working on that anger in between my life and random spells of sobbing.

They say “Just be happy.” Dave said his dad would comment to that effect quite often throughout his youth. Leave it to humans to take positivity and make it toxic. Our bodies are not lamps to be rubbed to summon an emotion like a genie. A human life encompasses all the emotions, but we do have to let them go. Emotions and thoughts are not our identity, yet so many of us are raised to believe that is so. Read that again. And unfortunately there are so many of us who live with mental health issues that are overwhelming and make it virtually impossible to arrive at that understanding.

They say, “One find one’s destiny on the path one takes to avoid it.” I will wonder my whole life why he did this, could it have been avoided or was this the way the story was always going to end. On a selfish note, I wonder, was I meant to love him and lose him? Was this my person and now I’m left to wander alone? Or was I meant to care for him, and I failed? Was he entrusted to me and I failed? Was he meant to care for me and he failed?

Are there those amongst us who will never have reprieve from their mental suffering?

I would do anything to prevent someone else from choosing this, if you are thinking of choosing this, please seek help. Please tell someone. Tell them now.

Because if no one has ever told you that your life is worth it, then let say it, “Your life is worth living, no matter how hard it may seem. You belong here with us. You matter. Your life has a reason. You are an “on purpose.” .On my word. I don’t believe life is ever wasted, maybe you are just lost, but what’s lost can always be found. Tell someone.

The last time I spoke to Dave was a few weeks prior to this event, and he told he had sat with a gun three times. I asked if he was taking his meds and he said yes, I asked if he was in therapy, of course he said no, but he did talk to the jail’s therapist from time to time.

It had been over a year since we talked, I had believed he was happy in Colorado and had found his better job, better house, better life and I assumed the girl he was convinced would be there. He told me that was what would happen. I told myself that’s what would happen.

But it didn’t. He didn’t find any of that from what I can tell…because they say, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” Which is completely true. You are either your greatest ally in this life or your worst enemy. It is you that will pick yourself up off the mat in the prize fight. It is you that will hold yourself in the shower crying. It is you that you need most of all in this life. Without you, you are lost.

I have no idea what went wrong because I had said he wasn’t to contact me after our divorce. So this call was the first. He told me twice on that call that he had always loved me and I told him that he had been an asshole, but I had forgiven him. And I apologized for my part in what had gone wrong. I apologized for any pain I had caused and he just said he had always loved me. We didn’t get divorced because we didn’t love each other, we failed because we didn’t know how to.

They say “This is mental health awareness month.” I say, well, we could call that a good start. I believe that mental health is the egg before the chicken. I believe until we drag our fears out into the light too many souls will die in the dark. And for some it will be a slow death of many days versus a gun in a living room. There is no shame in struggling.

Lemme say that again, there is no shame.

And I’m going to use this space time and time again to show you that’s true.

Through the cracks

Buenas Dias Travellers,

Apparently, I’m going to pen another gardening related post here today…because it’s good for you or me, or both..

To say life has been abit bumpy lately would be an understatement. To say the suicide of your former partner is life altering would be criminally inadequate. To say that grief just abruptly ends and life is as it once was would be a lie. But I’ll talk about the depths of that grief and all the things that people feel you shouldn’t say, or are too uncomfortable to say very soon.

Today I want about the other side and how it seems to seep into our world. I’m not talking about angels or heaven or demons and hell, I’m not talking about ghosts, or even reincarnation, but the rather subtle signs that appear before us to remind us of those who are longer on this plane. A simple thing that may mean they are still here. Saying hello. Because everyone that you have loved and lost is still with you. I feel very strongly that the energy of their love and their life remains anchored in this world, in us, until we die. I don’t think we are really each other.

Let me set the scene: I’m outdoors gardening the weekend before last and I’m feeling pretty good. It’s good work if you can find it. And you most certainly should try it. And yea, I’m gonna keep telling you that, so just give in and go start a garden…

Over the past few weeks the weight of Dave’s suicide has been squarely on top of me. As I’m sure it’s weighing on all those in his family and friends. I’m certain to not be the only survivor who is treading in that particular ocean. Looking for the black box from his crash. Knowing that none of us will ever find it.

I have been rummaging around in my mind trying to get my thoughts together about so many things that until this last week, I have felt like I’m not really here. Or if I even want to be here, but I decided to plant the garden because it’s what I do this time every year. Because it gives me hope, a real solid kind of hope. And there is nothing more reassuring than watching life grow right in front of you, and under your care.

So I’m doing the gardening, planting the plants, digging in the dirt, hauling around the rocks and mulling around in my mind, and for some reason I just glanced up and saw this…

I bought pansies last year, which I have never planted before, because they reminded me of my Grandma Biv, whose name is Vivian but I had a problem saying “V”s as a kid and for some reason I continued to call her that all my life. A term of endearment. She passed away a few years ago and last year, I felt moved to plant these little guys. Because she would have liked them. And because it made me feel like she was there in my garden.

Pansies are not for my patio, too much sun, not enough shade. They had a marvelously abundant and yet short life last year. But when I saw this little one, randomly growing in between the cement slabs, I just had the strongest feeling that is was her saying you’re not alone, you’ll be alright. AND if a pansy can grow in this crack where it never grew before, then you can grow into new ways that you’ve never grown before.

Just think how hard that little guy had to work to grow there!!

Mostly, it was just the feeling of being not alone. She was here with me. Watching me. Rooting for me.

And I realized in that moment, she is who I learned to love gardening from. Her backyard was my favorite as a kid. She didn’t grow veggies, but she had pots of pansies and peonies and other flowers. And bunnies and birds. And bird feeders. And wonderful lush green grass. And she was always delighted by all of their splendor. It was her unbridled joy about it all that I remember the most.

And just like that, my hope came back.

I should mention it’s growing right next to my little random determined strawberry plant, that also lives in this particular crack in the patio…and it appears another pansy is growing there as well…

And I could not be happier to see life so determined to find a way. Just look at it seeping through the cracks of this world.

Thanks for showing up again, same time tomorrow??

Have you ever felt like someone you lost has visited you here on Earth? Have you continued to find hope in this rather difficult period of human life? I hope so…

Most important, when are you planting your own garden, hmmm??