Afterthought – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our very talented fairy blog mother. I thank her for her dedication and leadership of this group. Thanks also to The Reclining Gentleman for the this week’s beautiful photo, just in time for Valentine’s day.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly writing group, challenged write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. If you’re interested in joining in, here are instructions. All are welcome.

PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman
PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman

Genre: Realistic Fiction (100 words)

Afterthought

The dust never settled in Rhea’s house. Only the broken remained, intact and unpatched. The faucet still dripped its feeble presence.

The door creaked with Janie’s entrance.

“Here. It was grandpa’s favorite color.” Janie offered a bouquet of yellow daffodils, picked fresh from the neighbor’s garden.

It didn’t matter then. “Why would it matter now?”

Janie shrugged and skipped away, leaving the splayed flowers behind.

After washing a vase, Rhea posed the stems in a vase where they exceeded their expected stay.

Every time she wanted to throw them out, she sniffed the bright petals. “Maybe I never knew him.”

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

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Princess of the Lily – Friday Fictioneers


It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly writing group challenged to write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for her dedicated leadership and to Erin Leary for this week’s beautiful photo.

All are welcome to participate in the challenge. Please join in. Click this link for instructions.

leary2
PHOTO PROMPT © Erin Leary

 

Genre: Horror (100 words)

Princess of the Lily

Lily pads floated like majestic crowns.  The lake was Alice’s special place and a much-needed distraction from Sabrina’s sneering. Circuitous pathways weren’t enough. Sabrina tailed her.

Out from the bushes, Sabrina appeared. She said, “Your mother’s schizophrenic. I heard she’s in a mental hospital.”

“You heard wrong,” Alice said.

Sabrina pulled Alice by her hair, plunging her face into the water.

When she surfaced, Alice gasped. “You just made my mother very angry.”

Vines ripped through the ground, pinning Sabrina’s ankles, and yanking her to the muddy depths.

Alice placed a lily pad on her head and blew a kiss.

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

Linger – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers. The challenge is to write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. Thank you to our lovely hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, and to J. Hardy Carroll for this week’s magical photo.

All are welcome to join in the fun. Visit the Friday Fictioneers page for details.

jhc5
PHOTO PROMPT – © J Hardy Carroll

(100 words)

Linger

Mowed lawns and watering schedules marked time at Lakewood Cemetery. For Tabitha and Elsa, it was burial plots turned with fresh soil.

“Wait until they leave at least,” Elsa said, behind a tree.

“She looked nice.” Tabitha picked up a bouquet and twirled. “Such lovely flowers. She must be loved.” She stomped on the gravestone.

“It’s her time to rest, Elsa. Be patient.”

Tabitha lay her head in Elsa’s lap, and stared up at her mirror image of blond curls and soft, pink lips.  “I’m tired of being patient. When will Mom and Dad get here?”

“There, there. Soon, sister.”

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For more stories for this prompt, visit the Linkup.

 

Aside

Embed from Getty Images

My sister said to me the other day, “I just want to know where Dad is.” I still feel like I can call him and visit him down the street. He’s definitely not there. I could consult religious texts about this question of where one goes after life. Heaven, I hope. With an online search, I found myself reading a post on a blog about this subject. What else is new? The post went on to some length with a detailed description of what comes after death. Commenters of this particular post wanted to know how the blogger could possibly have the answers to all the questions. “How do you know this stuff?” Many asked this.

I might be asking that exact question except that some of the stuff she said was the exact same stuff that a friend of mine told me not long after my Dad died. “Oh,” she said, “He’ll be having his debriefing of his life soon. It will take about three weeks.” The blogger said the same thing. My friend considers herself to be a spiritual person, often aligning her beliefs with Native Americans, although she has had a Christian religious upbringing as well. My point is this wasn’t based on any particular religion. My friend went on to say that in this debriefing period, my dad would get an overview of his life. I reasoned he could see what he did good, what worked, how he screwed up, how he spent his time and with whom. The whole shebang.

The analysis could be discussed on a couch in the sky or perhaps a Dickens’s Christmas Carol spirit takes you by the hand and, together, you observe your life of the past, present and…the future, I guess we can rule out. It sounds reasonable enough that an angel might sit with you and just talk it out. Perhaps it will be a deep sleep where we dream it all. Perhaps, something that we can’t describe. I just hope there’s food because everything is better over a comforting meal. I don’t see why the talk/analysis can’t be done over a leisurely seven-course dinner with wine, and dessert and coffee.

He’s ready for the debrief. Are you? (Source:  Flickr)

All kidding aside, what I found illuminating was that this blogger, who knows everything, said that in the debriefing you will look at all the good you’ve done in your life and the ripple effect of those positive actions. You would then feel this goodness wash over you. Likewise, in ways that you hurt or caused pain, you get to feel that, too. This part made sense to me.

Lately, I’m more aware of the mindful choices that I can make each day. We do have choices about how we spend time in our lives, at least in our leisure time. I’m pretty certain that when we do the debrief we won’t care about how much money we made or spent, what we wore or what our hair looked like. Appearances won’t mean a thing. Most likely, all that will matter will be who we spent our time with.

I wondered if I could get a midterm life grade, a kind of check-in. I suppose this might only be available to those who have the near-death experience. Most of us don’t get this opportunity. I’ll admit, I actually don’t really want it. I will take my chances with the three-week debrief.

It’s said after the debrief is complete, you walk through a cleansing ring of fire. Later, you can do the whole life thing over again and give it another try. A future after all.

The truth is we really have no idea. I just thought it was funny that my friend and this random blogger both mentioned a three-week debriefing as a matter of fact. Since this blog post is six years old (here it is) and my friend doesn’t blog at all, they couldn’t have collaborated.

Hopefully, no matter what, we get to fly.

Expect a Three-week Debrief

Aside

A good friend asked me, “Honestly, do you think you’re the first person to have regrets after losing a loved one?”

Of course, I’m not the only one. Regrets are universal and to be expected. Yet there is also the expectation and urging to let them go.

I’ve returned to this regret stage many times in my grieving process, now in it a little over a month since the loss of my father. Just when I feel I’ve made progress, it rears its ugly head. Because I was my dad’s primary caregiver, I suppose it is only natural that these regrets surface and I feel the need to own them. And especially because I never saw him again after his sudden heart attack, his death felt surreal like it never happened. It might even seem more normal to have regrets under these circumstances; I may be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t.

After his death, I read an article that suggested I list my regrets and then weigh in on whether on not they were truly valid. My itemized list of regrets, real or imagined, was three pages long before I decided to stop, knowing deep down it was self-punishing and negative. I’m not sure what the point of this exercise was really.

While many of these regrets may have been isolated thoughts taken out of the context of real life circumstances or truly couldn’t be helped unless I was perfect, living in a perfect world, they remained. I will spare you all the details, but just say the scope ranged from the management and quality of my dad’s care to an analysis of the priorities in my life. Death has done a number on me.

I was overwhelmed and shut my notebook and haven’t returned to that list since.

The senior population, who included some of my dad’s friends, had cautioned me, “Don’t. Even. Go. There,” with finger wagging included. My mother promised me, “I don’t want ANYONE to do this when I die.” She was most convincing. She has told me to distract myself and think of something else, immediately.

Lose the thought. Not so simple.

There is this lingering pull to resist letting go. Are the regrets keeping the reality of the death at bay? It has occurred to me that processing these regrets over and over may keep my dad more present even if the focus is on the past. I know that makes very little sense.

The truth is I wouldn’t want my dad regretting anything about his life, wherever he is. What would be the purpose of that? The same should go for me and the living.

The three-page list I wrote is now just one big blur of regret. I actually think that’s progress. Soon, I hope I can kick those regrets to the curb and replace them with loving memories only. Regrets begone.

My good friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, offered this beautiful poem to me. I wanted to share it because it gave me such comfort. Maybe there is someone else out there who needs to read this now. I hope it helps.

When I pass

When I pass,
Things might seem amiss,
No more phone calls, or emails,
Or a welcoming kiss

When I pass,
Cry not for me please,
Instead, think of our lives,
And all the fond memories

When I pass,
Oh please don’t you fret,
Wipe the tears from your eyes,
And live free of regret

When I pass,
And enter God’s gate,
You will see me again,
Take your time I will wait

When I pass,
Know this for it’s true,
There wasn’t a day in your life,
That I didn’t love you

Regrets Begone

Aside

This is the poem I read at my dad’s memorial service. Things came to me in little bits right after his passing and this is what I wrote. I thought I would be able to read this as opposed to a longer story. I was wrong. I cried after the first word and then continued with tears and long pauses. Anyway, I think my dad would have liked it.

For My Dad

Mossbeam you called me
Moss for Amos
Even though my name is Amy
Beam for the gymnast’s balance beam
My eyes beamed when you called me that

Euclida, my other name
For Euclid’s cousin it must have been
Shaking your head at me
when you helped with me maths
We laughed, I beamed hopeless eyes

Your first year of school
You said not a word
“I watched from a bench,”
you told me,
“Alone, and observed.”

Later, you are the master of words
and numbers both
Forever patient with your students
Teaching them to write the perfect sentence
A gift beyond measure

This one’s called “Take Five” you said
Snapping your fingers, tapping your toes
Brubeck, Miles and Count Basie, you’d sing
“It don’t mean a thing if you
ain’t got that swing”

Jelly beans, Whoopers,
Saturday Night Fever, too
Anything peach
You could whistle
any tune

Salami and cheese
always pleased
Silky Sullivan, your favorite horse
a crowd pleaser,
a winner coming from behind

Pool parties, keep away
and basketball
Trips to Corona Del Mar Beach
Roasting marshmallows
until after dark

I thought everyone did that
as a kid
I was wrong, I was lucky
To have you
as a my Dad

You taught me to accept
and to not judge
I thought everybody did that, too
You always lifted up the people
around you

You lifted me up
A boyish grin upon your face
A crafted pun up your sleeve
Even when us kids fought
You commented, “Look at how these good Christians love one another”

It may have been time for you to go
But not for me
I wanted another talk over a puzzle piece
One more laugh over a strawberry smoothie
It’s not to be

A thinker, a dreamer
Wherever you are
I know you are
shining bright
as a star

With love in your heart
a smile dancing
on your face
that twinkle in your eye
I will miss you, Dad

For My Dad – A Poem

Aside

I now have four items remaining to check off my list: thank you cards, going through my dad’s items in storage, selecting a marker for my dad’s grave, and writing a scathing letter to the management of my dad’s former residence. I will take great pleasure in that last item, and I know my dad would be so pleased with me to see me follow through. He often wrote letters to the newspapers with his opinions.

The management at his senior living community seemed only concerned with leasing my dad’s now vacant apartment. They had left me a message inquiring about the status and requesting the keys promptly due back at the end of the month. I was calm and cool until I realized that they had taken his name off his mailbox. I simply had asked what happened to his mail and what was the next step. The manager accused me of “disrespecting her,” firing back she had no idea what happened to his name on his mailbox. Didn’t she manage the place?

It was then that I expressed that she and her staff had zero compassion and not once had reached out to me or my family. As if I were in some dystopian novel, she explained to me that that it was against their policy to reach out to families who experience a death. Considering the population they serve, senior citizens, this policy is ridiculous, callous, and unacceptable. She then promptly asked if I would like to do a walk-through of his apartment. His empty apartment where he died. I was livid, stunned, but mostly numb. All I could say was, “No. Do I really need to be there?”

It will make me feel better to write this letter to the corporate office, especially if it prevents such horribleness from happening to someone else. Still, I feel I have this checklist to only delay the end of these death-related tasks as long as possible, because when they are all done, it will be over. What will be over? Then, I realize it will never be over. I know it’s my new reality that my life must go on, missing someone dear.

My dad is absent from my life, but I don’t like to think he is gone, only that he is somewhere else. It helps me to think he’s having a wonderful time and that he’s at peace. His version of heaven would probably be to spend it at the horse races where at the end of each race he would collect huge winnings; something he clung to in his life having no importance “up” there.

I talk to my dad, both out loud and to myself. I’d like to think he’s lingering and a couple of quirky things have happened; towels falling off their racks, his hat popping off the shelf, and a bottle of shaving cream turning up in my sister’s car. My mind is really open to anything at this point. I’ve taken up running only to hear myself breathe. When I ran before, I’d worry about distance and pace. Now, I just run; it doesn’t matter how far or how fast.

The favorite part of my run. Who cares where I am.
The favorite part of my run.

I’m also trying to meditate to shed all the rut thinking that comes with grief, namely the endless regret that manifests with losing someone. I’m told it’s all a part of grieving and it will get better, and that our grieving is as deep as our love. Grief is the price we pay for love.

Still I seek answers. I even ask Google questions like, “Why did you die? Where are you now? Does everyone have an appointed time to die?” Google is no help. I  went to a metaphysical store that provides readings, hoping to meet the Certified Angel Therapy Practitioner. Yes, there is such a thing. She wasn’t there as her job is only a summer gig. I may return to meet a Spiritual Medium. Don’t judge.

I left the metaphysical store with a pink rock: a rhodochrosite, 4th chakra for divine love self-acceptance. It will have to suffice and gives me solace. I grip it in my fingers and feel its smoothness, and I pray.

Shes a beauty.

Power or no power, I believe. Still moments when I am flooded with despair, awash in tears, feeling the depth of loss a little deeper still, I just want him back.

What’s the silliest question you ever Googled? Do you believe in the power of rocks and minerals? Have you ever used a Spiritual Medium?

The Solace of a Pink Rock