Tag Archives: Loss

I’m Still Standing

When we lose someone we love, it feels as though that particular pain will never go away. What we learn along the way is that while the pain never truly goes away, we find a way to accept it as part of our reality. We learn to live with it, we adapt & go on. We have to. Whats the alternative? I can think of a couple, but none that appeal to me.

There are more than one way to lose someone you love. The obvious one is death. That one is final & out of our control. It is also possible to lose loved ones due to mistakes, conflict or from growing apart. These can also be difficult to move past for some.

Lets focus, however, on loss due to death. Before the second week in February of this year I had lost 3 friends to sudden & tragic death. I knew all 3 of these guys for more than 20 years of my life. One was lost as a result of a terrible auto accident that made it onto all 3 major network news programs that day in Detroit. The second passed due to a blood infection he caught from a chemical burn & the last died from a massive heart attack at the age of 44, 24 hours after having surgery to repair his broken ankle. Not a single one feels fair or makes sense…but what untimely death makes sense? I just know I miss them & know that there are plenty of friends who have already passed who can meet them & help them on their journey. I also know that there is some AMAZING music being made in “heaven” right now, if that place exists.

All this death got me to thinking about friends who’ve gone before these 3. I’ve never actually sat down & counted how many of my friends have passed since it started in 1996 with the murder of my buddy Steve, who was gunned down during an attempted car-jacking after a Motorhead concert. I know the number is somewhere in the double digits, but I prefer to remember them individually. They were all unique & beautiful in their own special way. Each gave something to our scene that could never be replaced & will never be forgotten. I do hope to honor my fallen brothers in some way, whether I write a story about it & them or finally follow through on that documentary that I’ve been threatening to film for years now. They deserve to be remembered & celebrated! I’m grateful & lucky to have known every one of these guys, because the color they added to life was breathtaking. 

Sadly, I’ve become a pro at moving on, but it’s what we do, we endure. When I first begin to notice I’m getting through entire days without crying I feel guilty, as if I’m forgetting. The thing is, I’ll never forget, they walk with me every step of my journey, sometimes carrying me along when I’m unable to walk myself.

You see, at a certain point, I remind myself that I’m still alive & I have to get back to the business of living. I’ve got work to do, a life to live, memories to be made….so much to see, to photograph, to write about…people to meet, faces to make smile, cities to live in for a year, lessons to learn, wrongs to right, maybe even lives to change (hopefully for the better)

I admit that I’ve wasted a lot of precious time in my life. That was one of the hardest lessons to learn…that I’m only ripping myself off by doing nothing, by not believing in myself. I’m done with that. I’m excited about everything that lies ahead for me. I look forward to seeing what changes. I am ready for the challenges that lie ahead. I’m lucky, you see, because I’ve got an army of angels surrounding me with love. 

Now, I’ve gotta get outta here….stuff & thangs ;^)

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If you lived here, you’d be home by now

Here is a statement I have spent a lot of time pondering lately. Since April I have found myself without a home, but in all honesty that reality stretches back months before.

The last time I remember feeling really truly “at home” was at my sub-leased apartment in Los Angeles. It was also the last time I lived alone. It’s coming up on a year since I left there to return here to my supposed support system.

As soon as I moved back to Michigan I was living in someone elses house. They did, at times, their best to make me feel it was my home as well. Sometimes it did, but not often. Mostly, they treated me like a troubled teen & they were my foster parents. The disturbing fact about this is that they are my age. I love how people use your mistakes to make themselves feel better about their empty or somehow unfulfilled lives. I’ve already told the story of how my time ended there, no need to dredge it back up again.

Then onto the farm, which I have also written about. This is the place where my life nearly ended, by my own choice. As I stared at that bottle of Oxys, thinking about how many it would take to get the job done right, I also thought about Heather & what not only losing me would do to her, but the knowledge that I used her pills to end my life. That is what kept me from going through with it. That was also the only real opportunity I’ve had to end my life by going to sleep & never waking up. What can I say, I’m a pussy. I can’t end my life in violence. I can’t slit my wrists. I can’t shoot myself. I can’t hang or drown myself. This might have something to do with the fact that I actually don’t want to die. I just want a way out of this sinkhole I’ve gotten myself stuck in.

There is no one to blame but me. Sure, people have wronged me & I them. That’s not the point. I’m in charge of me, or supposed to be anyway. I did this. I am the only one who can undo it. Now I just have to figure out how.

Right, I digress, back to the farm. I spent 2 months at this place & slid further into the darkness every day that I was there. It’s easy to do that there. It’s a sad place full of broken people going around in circles. It was the perfect place for me to lose myself. I just didn’t deal with any of my problems, dug the holes deeper & swallowed pills to numb any semblance of emotion. Every day was exactly the same. Sleep 12-14 hours, thanks to the pills. Otherwise I wouldn’t have slept at all. This is also the time that my eating habits became sporadic. I existed on Dr. Pepper & onion bagels.  I have never cared less about anything in my life as I did during that period. I would go 5-7 days without showering. What was the point? Then one day I had to come down to Detroit for an event I was supposed to work.

I needed somewhere to stay over the weekend, so I didn’t have to drive the 60 miles between the farm & Detroit. So I called a guy I used to be able to rely on. He abruptly blew me off, leaving me hanging & stuck. I laid in my car for an hour or so, contemplating whether or not I should contact my friend who lives down here. We have kept in touch, but had not seen much of each other in the years since I had moved away from Detroit. I felt a great deal of guilt as I text her, but the panic I felt at the thought of sleeping in my car in Detroit outweighed the worry of asking her. It was only for the weekend, so it couldn’t be that bad, right? WRONG!

2 days has turned into 2 months & I have become a blob of self-pity, depression & burden on my friends who are also going through very difficult transitional periods in their life, yet still manage to take care of their responsibilities on a daily basis. It fills me with shame & heightens the self-pity. I don’t stack up. I am the giant wart on the thumb of this house. I feel it every moment of every day, unless I have managed to find a way to keep myself busy, doing anything.

When I came here & the initial discussions were that I could stay here while I got myself together, that when I got some money coming in I would contribute. Due to my frozen state, that has yet to happen & I feel the time for me to leave is growing nearer by the minute, rather than the hour. This week is the 1st time I’ve really made a concerted effort to change my circumstances. I am doing it for me, first & foremost yes, but at the same time, because of what these beautiful women have done for & put up with from me, I want to do it for them as well. I want to see in me what they do….SO badly!

So, for today, as I sit on the back porch of this home I’ve grown to love, the only thing I can think to say is….If I lived here, I’d be home by now.

Stay tuned for tomorrows installment. Who knows, it may even be a vlog lol

❤ to all who follow & care!

You don’t know what it means to me, this growing group of people showing an interest in my disaster of a life.

Thank you

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“You Can’t Go Home Again”

In the Thomas Wolfe novel, he claims, in part, that “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood”. While we know that literally, one can go home again, but as I stated in an earlier post, the metaphorical idea holds true…one can never really go home again.

For the past decade I have held inside me a dream to buy back my Grandmothers home. When she passed in 2001, my father & step-mother decided to sell the house. This fact has bothered me since I found out about it. The main reasons for this being that my Grandmother had this house custom-built during a time when women were still not as likely to do such a thing, but she was never a “typical” woman. She worked very hard for everything she got in her life & I have always respected her for that. Sadly, I always held in my heart that she would allow me to live in the home & carry it on in our family once she passed. That was not the case.

I have to make it a point to admit that when my Grandma passed away, I was not there. The easy answer to why is that I wasn’t aware. The more complicated answer is that after so many decades of running into a brick wall with my family & relatives (mostly the relatives), I made the choice (at the wrong time, it turns out) to stop running at the wall, only to slam into it, hurting only myself. (or so I thought)

Madelyn was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in the fall of 2000 & passed away in April of 2001. Christmas was ALWAYS her favorite time of year. The weeks leading up to Christmas, she was recovering from surgery that removed her lung tumor & half of the lung it had invaded. She was planning a family Christmas party, including her sister (my Great-Aunt) her children & theirs as well. A few days before Christmas, as I was making my daily phone call to see if she needed me to stop by & bring her anything, she mentioned to me that she felt it would be best that I didn’t attend the Christmas party. I can admit now that I immediately saw red. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want any “trouble” this year & with the Belians attending, my presence would cause strife. I don’t think she had any idea how much that statement broke my heart. What did she mean, I shouldn’t come. I was her granddaughter, the child she had a HUGE hand in raising. Her direct bloodline. If anyone should be there, it was my dad & his wife, myself & my brother. Well, they were all there, but not the bad seed. That was my moment. The moment when I said “Enough!” I stopped that day. I stopped trying. I stopped putting myself out there, only to be ridiculed & seen as the person I was when I was young….irresponsible, disrespectful, distant, loud, etc. That is a person I would never outgrow in the eyes of many people I share a bloodline with, some of whom I don’t even really know. It’s amazing how those things can stick with you, but all the good, the growth, the change that you make is just plain invisible. (I did find out later that my Grandmother never told my father that she & I had that conversation, which only made him angrier at me, which in hindsight is understandable (“Same old Jennifer”)

I openly admit that not spending Christmas Eve with my Grandma was a terrible mistake on my part, regardless of my reasons. What I should have done was suck it up, bury my personal pain & go hang out with her. Because I chose not to, we never spoke again & 4 months later she was gone. I wasn’t able to be there to say goodbye, to help pick her burial outfit (because she took great pride in the way she appeared & dressed), to help care for her (even though I was told I couldn’t have handled it), to give back, even in the slightest bit, what she gave to me my entire life by being my ONE constant. The stable, responsible role model that I always knew she was, but could never quite live up to. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t love that woman more than anything or anyone in my life. It just means that once again I was selfish, consumed by hurt & bitter that I was always the bad seed, the black sheep…a role I never asked for, but surely earned.

Fast forward 11 years & a HUGE change in myself. I have made it an odd habit of driving by the house since I found out my gram passed. It became somewhat of an obsession to me. At times, mostly highly emotional times, I would find myself crying or screaming at the people living there to get outta my house. Not the healthiest behavior, I’m aware, but I never claimed to be entirely stable, emotionally or otherwise.

Recently, I’ve noticed there were no cars in the driveway. That was the immediate sign to me that they had moved out, obviously a case of foreclosure. Last week I typed the address into the local realtor website & sure enough, there were 9 pictures of my childhood home. I wrote them IMMEDIATELY, asking for a viewing. I was gonna get it back! I was so excited, making plans in my mind, blah, blah, blah. It was a very fun & exciting 24 hours….that is, until the real estate agent showed up to meet me.

As he unlocked the door, he turned and said to me “I have to tell you that this house is infested with black mold”. I said I knew & didn’t care & he opened the door. For a brief 5 seconds, I could smell her. Then the black mold stench took over. My mother had offered to go with me & at first I didn’t understand why. Maybe she wanted to see the house she spent much of her late teens & early twenties in. Later, at lunch, she told me the real reason, that she felt this was something I shouldn’t have to do alone. That was lovely, especially considering that we are not very close.

I walked through every room. I envisioned the furniture, the sound of the television or music on Christmas. I went into my old bedroom, that one felt weird, the bathroom I used to sit on the counter with my feet in the sink getting ready. Everything was the same. In the ten years these strangers lived there, they didn’t change a thing. They just let it rot. I hate them.

When I reached my grandmother’s bed/bath in the back of the house, the agent & my mom had already gone outside, unable to stand the smell of the mold. I just talked to her in there, seeing her putting on her makeup in her bathroom, standing in her walk-in closet choosing one of the 100’s of dress suits to wear that day. Inside her closet I began to cry. I cried because I miss her. I cried because I wasn’t there when she passed. I cried because I was still the same failure she hoped I wouldn’t be when she was alive. I cried because this was the last time I would ever be in this house.

In the end, I’m glad I went. I feel free of that dream now. I no longer drive by the house. I don’t think about it. I don’t fester over it. I don’t care.

Goodbye house

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As Tears Go By

Ok, so…..I’m not a big watcher of television, it’s pretty empty to me, however there are certain actors & certain content that I do enjoy. There is a new show this season on NBC, I think, called Parenthood. It starts Peter Krause & Lauren Graham. I am a fan of Peter Krause from Six Feet Under, which is one of my favorite all time shows. I like Lauren Graham for many things, but mainly, I really liked Gilmore Girls. I can’t explain it, I just liked it, whatever.

So, I have watched episodes of Parenthood on Hulu & by the end of EVERY SINGLE EPISODE I am crying my little crybaby eyes out. I know why this is, I just don’t talk about it, ever. I am pissed, jealous & upset that I have never been the girl who got married & had kids. I’m not sure this is something I did on purpose, well, a few times it was on purpose. I’ve been afraid of everything all my life & it seems I have scared myself out of true love, marriage & children. I’ll just add it to the list of things I never had the nerve to do. That is SUCH a long list & I hate it! I hope to burn it one day.

I’ve gone through a tough time lately. I know this is obvious to anyone who knows me or reads this blog, all 10 of you. lol There are multiple reasons for this, some that I’ve already written about, some I haven’t & some I never will.

I am mourning the loss of so many people that I have honestly lost count. That’s a sad thought within itself. In the last 6 months alone I’ve known 3 people who have passed away from very similar problems. They all died from bad hearts. 2 were Congestive Heart failure.

1 of them was my grandfather, who I barely knew, but he was a wonderful man. I literally found out that he passed away because my step-mother reads to obituary’s & saw his name, saying something to my dad, who then called me. I just sat in silence while he talked, didn’t cry. I was with my younger brother, who’s only 22 & never knew him, so I didn’t want to get upset in front of him, because he worries about me, in that cute, protective brotherly way. It was March 18th, 3 days shy of his 84th birthday. With his second wife they had 7 children, who all grew up to be happy & successful people, because I  believe, they had a loving & nurturing family. I’ve been alive nearly 40 years, I could have had 39 years with this man, but I didn’t because the cross-family conflict ran too deep for me to EVER understand. All I know is that I was the biggest victim in all this conflict, well me & my dad, but he helped perpetuate it once he was an adult. I never did. I always wanted to know him, as well as my 7 Aunts & Uncles & my 18 cousins. I had a little under 2 years with him from 12-14 & I just LOVED him. I was just instinctively like him & that was so weird to me, because I have a hard time comprehending a close & loving family connection. Yeah, I’m close to my parents NOW, but that’s only been in the last 5 years of my life. I wish I could have known the man his 18 other grandchildren called papa. I wish for my dad that he could have felt loved by his father, maybe then so many things would have been different. Luckily for us, I broke our family cycle, someone had to. I wrote an entire blog about him after his passing if you want to know more about our story.

The second person who passed away from Congestive Heart Failure was my friend Kevin, 6 months ago. He was 42 & had a 12-year-old son who adored him & he adored right back. I knew Kevin for 20 years & he was a really wonderful, funny, sarcastic, talented & beautiful soul. He was like me in some ways, sarcasm being the prevailing similarity. He was always struggling to make ends meet, often found himself out of work, never had money saved. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Kevin struggled his entire adult life. He was stressed a lot of the time. He didn’t get nearly enough joy in his life before his heart gave out on him. That just doesn’t seem fair to me. I wish he was still walking the earth, spending quality time with his son, playing guitar, cooking delicious food, smiling, laughing, making fun of people, breathing. I wasn’t able to make his memorial, which was a sad affair for a few reasons, the obvious being his age, but also that his family refused to pay for a service & so his friends had to scramble to put something together. Luckily, someone knew a person whose family owned a funeral home & they let them use it for free. That was lovely of them. His body was not in attendance though, because that costs extra. Dying is not cheap! Anyway, I was still in Florida then & was struggling financially myself, so I couldn’t afford the plane ticket up. On the day of the memorial, my friend Amy called me several times to fill me in on the goings on; who spoke, what they said, how everybody was holding up. It was one of those moments that breaks your heart, because you know this event is going on & you so much want to be there, but can’t for reasons beyond your control. You feel so alone, because you are not with your friends, mourning, looking at photographs, telling stories. You are all alone, in a state far from anyone who understands the pain of this loss. There were many tears shed that day & night. I still don’t feel a closure with Kevin, much like my friend Angelo who passed away from an aneurysm in January of 2008, which could have been stopped, had he gone to the hospital, but I’m NOT blaming him, I just selfishly wish he were still here, mostly for his children. I couldn’t make it to his funeral either, being in Florida & not being given enough notice to get back up here. Or Amanda, oh Amanda……my ex-boyfriends niece, who I really did love like a daughter/good friend, who passed away in July of 2008 of a heroin overdose. Her funeral was one I was told I was not welcome to attend by my scumbag ex-boyfriend, who by the way copped the dope that killed her & he’s telling me I can’t go to her funeral? Afterward, I was told & saw photographs of the tailgating party they were holding in the parking lot of the funeral home. No wonder this happened, the adults in her life were/are walking disasters in their own right!  Amanda was 17 years old & less than 8 hours away from leaving for Tennessee to clean up her act. She never made it to morning. I’m not now & doubt I ever will get over her death.

Lastly, on March 1oth, I lost someone who I cared about in a special, sweet & unforgettable way. I don’t & won’t discuss it in full, because it is precious & private  memory that most people wouldn’t be able to understand. He was a special person. He was, as one friend put it so beautifully…..magic. He passed away from Pneumonia & Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which in lay terms is basically thickening of the heart muscles causing them to enlarge. He also had Coronary Artery disease, which is the build up of plaque in the coronary arteries. As I look at all these big medical terms, the only thing that comes to mind is that his heart was just too big & it couldn’t go on any longer. It’s like his heart broke & just stopped. I can’t express enough how much I wish this wouldn’t have happened, that he would have gotten treatment for this earlier in life or that the hospital could have kept his pulse, heart rate & blood pressure going once they got it momentarily stabilized, but his body was just done. It was done fighting. He may not have been done, but his heart was. He was only 38 & like myself never married or had children, although we both really did want that in our lives.

It is moments like this that cause me to ask myself why. Why do things like this happen? Why are some people SO blessed with a good & happy life, while others are doomed to suffer? A friend has a theory that I kind of agree with, but that’s between us. All I can say is that I hope my loved ones who left too soon find themselves in a happy & healthy life next time around. For my Grandfather (Papa, I guess) I hope he is enjoying his time with loved ones who passed before him & that he is looking over his wife & letting her know that everything is ok & he’ll meet her when it’s her time to go.

I am sad today.

I hope tomorrow to feel happier.

I have grief counseling in the morning & hope that somehow that helps.

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