Blake’s Fallen Hero.

I’m an adult, I’ll finally admit this.  But, when Blake is upset I curl up in the fetal position and cry because he is sad.  I can’t explain how my little brother’s emotions become my own, but when he hurts I hurt.  It begins with sharing, which is not something he does easily so I know he trusts me.  His speak of Jeffrey, our deceased brother….his hero, is unique in the sense that he rarely speaks of him at all so when he begins I listen with all my soul.  The thing about Jeffrey was that he was ‘the man of the house’ and he took Blake under his wing like his very own son.  Blake was, with all intents and purposes, his.

I can not describe the difficulty of telling Blake, that very tumultuous day, that his hero was missing, gone, vanished, and I had no explanation at the time.  Seven year-old’s are smart, whether you credit them or not, and in an already confusing situation a seven year-old can question a lot.  A simple “He’s missing” doesn’t bode well, so heading into life and death territory may seem like a mature topic.  But, these were not usual circumstances and eventually it had to be done.

Blake was forced out of childhood into topics even adults shouldn’t have to endure.  He held his mother’s hand as she laid paralyzed with grief in bed, begging God to take her instead of her dear son, Jeffrey.  He braved through morbid conversations that no seven-year old should be privy to.  Blake held my heavy head as I cried my eyes out into his shirt for Jeffrey to be alive.  He just assumed the responsibility, but I should have assumed more of the role than I allowed him to take on.  After all, I was the oldest.

There’s a connection between he and I.  Without Jeffrey, I have overcompensated to fill that void.  On occasions, like tonight, Blake confides in me his pain. How he wished Jeffrey could have stuck around, but I remind him how special he was to Jeffrey.  As a matter of fact, Jeffrey was the only person that promised mom he would take care of Blake when she found out she was pregnant.  I know if he just pays attention, he’ll find Jeffrey is just a few step ahead of him.  Luckily, I’m their big sister so I’ve got it covered, but there will never be enough coverage for a fallen hero.

I love you, Blake Allen Miller, and more than anything I hope you know that Jeffrey loved you more than anyone else in this world.  You were/are his soulmate. XOXO.


Morbid Compassion.

A designer at work passed away this morning.  Lung Cancer.  I never spoke to the lady, much, but there was something about her that told me had I talked to her it would have been welcomed.  I never did. 

I know what you’re thinking, another post about death.  It occurred to me, today, that perhaps it’s not a mild obsession with death that affects me but the experience in which it changed me.  After my brother died, I gained this spiritual connection to humanity that I never had before; compassion. 

Today when I heard about my co-worker and the gathering we were having to ‘share stories,’ I wanted to attend.  Not because I knew her well enough to have a story, per se, but because within me was this compassion for those that knew her well and loved her.  I want be there simply to pay my respects to the lady that I never spoke to and to those that thought very fondly of her.

It took three valium for me to attend my brother’s funeral. I sat there, marinating in the calm before the storm, and turned my head around to search the room.  I like to stare.  I stare and most people don’t even know, but when your loved one is the focus of the gathering it is different.  You’re the one being stared out.  I stare at people because I find them beautiful.  Sometimes not physically, but somthing about them fills in the holes in life for me; the description of my stories.  The woman I stared at for nearly an hour in the coffee shop that tried her damndest to sit with herself but was interrupted by the devices of technology.  The man that had no chivalry that I saw during my early morning train and then again in the evening – where did this man come from that has total disregard for politeness to women?  Naturally, I develop his character by assuming his mother left him and his father at a young age.  Sometimes I feel I am placed there to trigger this by tapping on his shoulder and asking how come he felt such little compassion for the old lady trying to get on the train that he would cut her off, but I never involve myself that directly into his story.  No, I just watch.  But, my brother’s funeral was different; I was the one being watched.  I turned around in my seat to stare like I was accustomed to, but I saw eyes looking at me, not judging but welcoming.  Eyes that said “I’m here when you need me.” 

My whole life I have struggled with being judgmental.  I think about my pain and the funeral and all the support I could see around me, and I wonder if this feeling I learned – compassion – could be used in more than death.  That way, if we regard each other every single day with compassion, we would initiate hello’s before it’s too late and we would show up just out of regard.  Now, I didn’t know everyone at my brother’s funeral but I did know they had a story to share and it involved my brother – regardless or not of if they actually shared it with me.

Maybe I won’t have a detailed story tomorrow at the gathering to trade stories about our coworker, but I can certainly relate to changes that death brings in people and a hope that it actually does change someone.  I find this change the most endearing change of life, but I still hope it’s not just found in death.  This I try to achieve, so I’ll go be just another eye in which someone lost was seen.

Rest in Peace Periel Tunaligil from design.  I was the one that never said hello while you were here, but Godspeed.

Sorrow celebrates joy…

We celebrate lots of things in a year if you think about it, and I hope you do, celebrate.  Celebrations change, or at least they have for me.  Christmas, the very essence of opening a present and getting the tingles from deep inside the gut as you rip and tear through it, changes with age.  The crock pot isn’t as exciting as say an easy-bake oven, now is it?  Birthdays, every year counting down to another year older and another year closer to getting on with it – whatever ‘it’ was then, become just another day.  Thirty two isn’t as exciting as say sixteen, now is it?  No excitement of driving legally for the first time and potentially…wait for it…a new car.  Nope, but you still have to pay the bank for the loan on your birthday and the Happy Birthday balloons aren’t even allowed at work.

The older you get, and trust me I’m not claiming thirty two is ‘old’ per se, the more dates you add to the calendar; anniversaries, in-laws birthdays, new birthdays, and death days.  The longer your life becomes the more boxes on that calendar that you, in some form, celebrate.

Death days are unusual days because they don’t, necessarily, have to be marked in a box on a calendar to depress everyone.  No, death days you never forget and the internal clock (the same one that powers the biological clock you hear about or may feel or felt but with less pressure…more like an iCalendar inside your soul) reminds you the closer one gets.  Historically, around Thanksgiving is when a down cycle starts for me and eases back up around February.  I know what you’re thinking and no it’s not seasonal depression.  It’s a hole looking to be filled, but the person to fill it has passed on so it’s an emptiness in my soul around holidays – loss.  The holidays begin the stretch into the moment in time, January 29th, that his life ended.  The constellation of death holidays all at once is the reason for the down cycle.  The death of Thanksgiving with my brother, the death of shopping for him at Christmas, and as a New Year approaches…ultimately the death of him.  In more ways than one every year, like grief, it gets less so a death occurs…the longevity of death pushing me further away from the actual moment.  Maybe this is why death vacillates in my writing and speech in the fourth quarter of the year.

I think back to the precious moments (no not the collectible figurines) when life resonates causing me to smile, deeply, and the urge to dance strikes.  That moment when the full moon takes your breath away, or when you can feel the sun hit your nose and radiate your soul.  Moments when you skip across the street, music hits your nervous system causing your head to move to the beat, a bright idea that shines down from the heavens right through you to the paper, those innocent moments.  Laughing until you cry, remember that?  Somewhere in the space between death and day I found a reason to celebrate, and that reason is life.

My brother couldn’t stop smiling, it’s true.  The very fiber of his being was happiness, and his life was a delight.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
(Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)

Do you Degree?

Degree, one of those multiple meaning words of the English language.  Look it up, it had 16 different meanings and two idioms according to  I’m going to focus on definition #3 (a stage in a scale of intensity or amount) so that I can get on with this blog posting, which has a high degree of postings today since I’m procrastinating on the manuscript.

The word and its concept as it relates to life, had me thinking about people, places, and the pursuit of survival.  Grief, which only has one solid definition and two idioms, had me thinking about degrees.  The loss of a friend, for instance, has varying degrees of grief.  I’ve lost people that at one time or another meant a great deal to me, but their departure barely broke my spirit.  I’ve also lost people that I didn’t think meant so much to me until our hour of separation; griefstricken to my knees.  There is also a type of grief that is crippling, causing eventual paralysis and life distruption that suspends you into a stalled reality; the unexpected loss of someone very dear to you. 

The different degrees of breakups come to mind also.  I’ve had breakups that I felt nothing about until much later in life when the realization of my treatment or behavior toward that person really took on its own grievance process.  How could I have treated someone that cared for me and I ultimately cared for in the grand scheme of things so poorly?  Regret, ah yes the hindsight punishment of knowing that the karma is going to kick you where it hurts (if it hadn’t already). 

Karma, it has four definitions in the English language but the most important definition is not English; it’s from Buddhism and Hinduism but I’ll use the Buddhist definition – action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.  It occurred to me, the other day, that my grisly breakup in 2006 (right after my brother’s death) was a direct result of bad karma that I weaved in 2001.  Hurting someone so severly, slicing and dicing the heart for stew, and without compassion.  You see, I hadn’t yet added that word into my internal dictionary.  The karma incubated for five years until it was reaped, and let me tell you it was a grim reaper.

I digress, morbidly so.

With every yin is the yang, and happiness is also experienced in varying degrees.  I’ve experienced elation and idle contentment (note: should you experience extreme degrees of up and downs frequently then perhaps you should skip this posting and head right to this bipolar article–just saying).  I’ve fallen in love and skipped across streets that gleamed from the rays of sunshine from the bright yellow sun while people sang, loudly, and danced in my shiny happy mood.  I’ve felt the butterflies from the bottom of my guts after getting great news.  Giggles have made their way out of my giddy mouth from spending time with a friend, and laughs have mustered up enough energy to change the world.  I’ve also just, simply, woke up in a good mood–not tired and not overjoyed. Varying degrees, you see.

My procrastination, while great initially, has subsided to a simmer and now my focus on getting to my manuscript has begun to boil.  I see degrees, people. 

The Devil’s Smile.

This is a little poem I wrote after seeing a photo of the last person to see my brother alive.  Look at him…how could ANYONE hurt such a wonderful kid.


RIP Jeffrey lee Ben (DOB: 08/23/82; Missing: 01/29/01; Laid To Rest: 04/05/06)

The Devil’s Smile.

Your voice drills a hole in my heart,

I hope I never hear it ever again,

Imagery of your life conjures up hatred I never knew existed,

For you took the life of someone I loved,

Dropped his body off at the top of a mountain for a critter’s treat,

I hope you taste my brother when you eat,

When you’re sad and all alone,

May you feel that January cold like pins and needles in your eyes,

As you lay your head to rest, You feel the rocks stabbing through your spine,

I hope you feel every pain you gave to my brother,

You murdering piece of shit,

You’ve raped my spirit,

You’ve killed a saint,

You’ve lied through your teeth,

I’m trying to bite my tongue,

But the lasso of grief has tied my feet,

Karma is my only ally,

Your maker one day you’ll meet,

In the meantime I hope this you read,

As you walk in hell at God speed.

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