Posts Tagged ‘Tyrel’

I just got a newsletter from the suicide bereavement group my sister and I attended last summer. The statistics posted below make me sad. I know that they’re right and I have felt the immense difference between the types of “compassion” shown to families where the death is accidental or natural as compared to drug overdose or suicide. This last year, my father died. The same week, two of my cousins died too. One was an alcoholic and no one seemed very upset by his death. His brother, on the other hand, died of complications from pneumonia. His death was a shock and was far more devastating to the family than the cousin who died of an alcoholic related disease. Why? Both were my cousins. Both were loved. Both had virtually the same background. Neither were expected to die any time soon. Why did everyone seem sort of relieved that Kevin died, but sad that Kenny did?

It just brings up so many bad feelings about the way my family and I were treated after Ty’s death. Especially at work. We weren’t allowed to grieve. People we thought were our friends accused us of causing Tyrel’s death by either inattention, by being “bad examples” due to our own mental illnesses and all sorts of other ridiculous, but incredibly hurtful things. Voyeuristic vultures wanted to hear every detail. I just recently had someone ask me if Ty died as the result of autoerotic asphyxiation. I just stared at them for a long moment then said “No. ‘He killed himself’ doesn’t mean he died accidentally trying to get off.” Dumbass, but sadly all too common.

When another nephew’s friend died from a congenital heart defect while they were staying at the family’s cabin with another friend, the rumor-mill ran rampant. Three boys alone in an out of the way cabin…clearly they were using drugs and one had ODed. It’s such bullshit that it makes me furious. When the autopsy results came back, it showed what we’d known all along. Jesse had no drugs in his system. The other boys were tested by the police the day that Jesse died, and had neither drugs nor alcohol in their systems but the rumors continued. I’m tired of people being so judgmental. Even if Jesse had died of an overdose, should being a normal kid wanting to try something new be a death sentence? I don’t believe so. Ok onto the study results before my head explodes from fury induced high blood pressure.

“In this study, the authors compared and contrasted 571 parents who had lost children by various causes— suicide, drug-related deaths, accidental deaths and natural causes in terms of their grief difficulties, post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems and perceived social stigma. In comparing parents whose children died by suicide or drug-related death with those whose children died of accidents or natural causes, the suicide and drug-related death survivors had appreciably more difficulty in grief and with poor mental health. The authors conclude that powerful social stigma against drug use and mental illness remains a pervasive challenge for these parents as they experience less compassionate responses from others following their losses.”

from
“Parental Grief After a Child’s Drug Death Compared to Other Death Causes: Investigating a
Greatly Neglected Bereavement Population.” By William Feigelman, John R. Jordan &
Bernard S. Gorman, Omega, 2011, Vol 63 (4), p. 219-316.

Grief is
an uphill climb in sand
with no oasis in sight

Hot wind erases footprints
as if you came from nowhere.
No path to show the way.

This journey is taken alone.

Unable to find your bearings;
Maps become senseless
when blinded by harsh light.

Stumble through a world
where nothing ever changes and
everything looks the same.

Perhaps it is the same and
you’ve been walking in circles
like a dog chasing its tail.

There is no past –
not anymore.
Memories are unwelcome.
They make people nervous.

Death is so uncivilized
especially suicide.

Just to the right
is a ragged string
of pine trees;

that is where I lie.
On top of you,
staring blankly up

like you would be
if you could see
through all that dirt.

A rainbow
half arcs the sun
from a distance,
haze in between.
Tans and browns;
not the prismatic display
it should be.
Pollution or clouds –
Who knows or cares?

To the north,
mountains float,
still wearing winter white.

Your daughter
will be a year old
next month.
Some lives went on
without you.

It’s June, 2011.
Long enough
to understand
you are never
coming back.

See the first buds
on wet branches.
Hear the harsh
caw of crows.

My heart
beats strongly
as a fist on the door.

Liver, lungs
and kidneys
do their work,
unnoticed.

Silent celebration
of health,
of life.

Glad to be a part
of this greening world.

Grateful
for those saviors
who return
the gift
of life
when their use
for it is done.

Somewhere
my nephew’s heart valve
still opens and shuts.

Somewhere
his corneas
share Ty’s love
of beauty.

While one family
mourns,
other families
rejoice.

Death
can become
life.

25 years ago,
my sister gave birth
through her skin;
her 3rd cesarean.

I captured the moment
with a failed flash;
emerging head illuminated
by surgical lights
otherworldly glow –
The door to Heaven,
briefly opened.

I held him first, cradled
his small, still bloody body
mere seconds before
reluctantly releasing him
to his father.

We walked to the nursery
together while they sutured
the gaping wound
through which he arrived.

Last year, I repeated the act of
returning him to his Father.

More painful this time,
because I know
he won’t be coming back.

I am practicing heartache,
learning to let go gracefully,
without tears or whimpers.

Each time I let go,
I am learning the way
to loosen my grip on what
was never really mine.

To say,
not goodbye,
but later.

The things I have
I hold closer.
They too
will leave me someday.

I am learning
how to hold on.

I am learning
how to let go.

4-1-11

A Color With No Name

Posted: March 10, 2011 in My Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We send signals
made with smoke.
They rise up to you –

You, who have become
something else:
a thing
not of this world.

Color
who’s energy
envelopes wholly,
comforts, teaches.

A noiseless
laughing sound;
white water racing
over rocks,
sunlight’s liquid dance.

The dog drinks
melted snow
from the trough
of a fallen shovel
while I talk to you
without words.

You hold my heart
in cupped hands;
light welling
between narrow fingers.

Torn parts melt
back together
and I feel you smile.

I am happy too.
Glad the night
is full of you.

Firefly,
you flit away,
to lift another,
fallen.

Ty and Dayne

14 months too little,
like a younger brother;
always hoping
to catch up
but, this year,
you will.

Grief floats out
on every exhale
as you try to un-speak
that yearly wish –

To eat
the evidence
like cold hard dirt
covering your cousin;
bring him back to life.

“I’m sorry”
isn’t a magic spell.
Your childhood wish
didn’t kill him.
He chose that fate,
himself.

You will be older,
he will be dead.
And nothing on earth
can change that.

I didn’t notice
the sky,
like I usually do.

Too many other
things – Sensory
overload.

Police cars
parked haphazardly
lights still on, stained
the snow with color
like some bizarre
Christmas display.

If there was
an emergency,
it was far too late
for you.

Echoing static silence,
so loud it hurt my ears –
The sound of
a bottomless pit
called grief;
a tiny word
for such devouring
emotion.

I knew,
as soon as I opened the door
on that bursting scream
of silence,
that no heroics
would bring you back.

Reduced
to one, tight,
blue-lipped syllable:
“Dead”.

Icy wind & crusted snow,
were witness
to your tears.

Pale stars coldly
oversaw your last
movements;
making sure
you tied the noose
with militant precision.

You stepped off
the antique church bench,
painted cheerful red
and printed so appropriately:
“The best journeys always
lead us home.”

And you went home
to meet your Father,
tears still on your cheeks;
blue eyes open to your future –
dressed in your best clothes.

You are a True Believer.
There was no doubt
in your mind
that you were going home.

Away from the burdens
of this world.
Into the arms
of a loving Father
who understands all
and forgives it –

a brother
who loves you enough
to die, already, for your sins.
We lost you
but gained an angel.

Missing you is like a knife,
cutting deeper every day.

It never goes away.

Audio Reading

Ty n Karlee

I see the world
with dog’s eyes
now.

It’s all
shades
of grey.

I can’t see you.
I see around –
strange shimmers
in the shadows.

The baby waves
and says “Hi Ty”
but you’re invisible
to me.

Hidden
from my dry gaze;
faithful as a dog’s.

I don’t cry anymore.
It doesn’t bring color
to my world
or wash away the black;

just makes my face
wet canvas
for someone else’s
paint.

We arrive at the mortuary,
to find you clothed only
in a human-shaped
plastic bag
which we’re commanded
not to remove.
Duct taped at the neck,
wrists and ankles –
Fluid leakage might occur,
and disturb the guests
at that last party in your honor,
you were rude enough
not to attend.

Staples
hold you together,
like suitcase zippers
going down your chest
and the insides of both legs.
The benefits of being an organ donor.
They assured us
it was almost unnoticeable.
I suppose they didn’t realize
we would dress you
for this occasion;
considered their lie thoughtful.
Maybe they didn’t care –
Just wanted whatever organs
you could provide;
after all, that’s what they do.

Rusty stains cloak
much of your skin,
hospital strength disinfectant.
Did they worry that you
might become infected?
Use proper surgical procedure,
despite the toe-tag
telling them that you
were just a shell.

We discovered quickly,
in trying to dress you
for your final show,
that you were like a Ken doll:
stiff and hardly malleable.
Still, your corpse was dressed,
with the most loving care.
Though your limbs
felt like rubber over concrete,
and hardly bent at all.

Your hands, scarred
from lighter burns and cuts
are like tightly packed,
Halloween gloves, spray painted
a subtly shiny flesh color.
I suppose they meant you
to look more respectable.
We loved you like you were.
They are not your hands:
those thin, eloquent story tellers –
They belong to someone else.

Finally your hair is done,
cologne on, tie cleverly
knotted in such a way
as to prevent voyeurs
from trying to see
the deep dent in your neck.

You are handsome,
as always;
stylish and lifelike…
except for your lips.
They’re flesh colored
not living red;
you had very
colorful lips for a man.
Mortician’s mistake
we’re afraid to fix.
We don’t want you
to look like a clown
so we forgo the temptation
of lipstick, but at the viewing,
it bothers everyone
who knew you:

the real you.
Not that empty shell
with nobody inside.