Posts tagged ‘parallel writing’
During the course of Chris’s education (Cleveland Institute of Art) he wrote a book- yes! a book!
The brief as I understood it – limited the number of words to be used ( under 30 ? ) – using different fonts to emphasize each word – texture of the paper / colours etc also to give visual emphasis to the reader. Subject (of one’s choice) telling the story with a beginning , middle and end- evoking at least two emotions from the reader.
Frank Warren of Post Secret stated:
Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.”
I know my friend and neighbor Kelly Boyer Sagert has published more than one book.
Oh! to have her talent and ability to start upon the journey she undertakes every time she starts another book. I can start but then ………….
In past years my thoughts , words, observations and conclusions have been published in magazines and periodicals but I can’t seem to get my plethora of thoughts together in a beginning – middle – and end- no matter the writing technique used- to actually write a nonfictional or even a fictional novel.
I did start a category on this blog on my family and my son . I have “saved” the categories and downloaded them as I wrote them in order that Gavin and now Braedyn will “know” their family, especially Chris, and the history of the events as they happened to us.
My mother wrote her book ( selectively published) MY Book about her youth, the war years (WW2 Britain) and her life . I know the sons, daughters and grandchildren of my mum’s extended family were pleased and I hope in years to come her own great-grandchildren will enjoy her memories
One of my previous publishers has offered to take my writings about my journey and publish BUT I have to clean up the grammar, the run on sentences and edit my writing in order that a copy editor can take a further look- SIGH- easier said than done. It is asking a lot because I would have to edit my thoughts and sort them into some sort of order- the story is jumbled as is my life and my brain is fragmented . Where do I begin ?
I suppose I could start by telling my “secret““. Is there a book in that? Yes! I would say most definitely – but I hesitate –
there is the burning question does the world really want to know my secret…
Am I not being a hypocrite when I say I am all about truth when I am holding back a truth ( even if it a truth as I see it – my truth). And for whose sake am I holding back – mine or the readers?
For instance, remember that old conspiracy theory about having a magic pill or process that would turn water into gasoline?
Ask yourselves IF you really had the knowledge of turning water into fuel simply and without a great deal of cost- Would you share that secret IF – it would mean the world’s economy would crumble- institutions would dissolve stock markets crash – the haves would definitely lose out , countries would fall( middle east in particular) would you share that knowledge? Would it mean the world’s water supply would face further annihilation what would be the trade-off?
There is a dire responsibility in secrets……
Generally, says Von Reiche, “secrets do create a lot of separation from other people, and they also prevent you from feeling truly authentic.”
“If the world were ready to be accepting of everyone, it would be a better place,” McDonald said. “In an ideal society, we would have no secrets. Do I think that’s likely in your lifetime or my lifetime? No.”
It has been one of those weeks- the more that normal life situations have been part of my day – the worse my grief. I know that will only make sense to some who walk my path.
Losing Chris , the trauma of day after day of watching him have his world crushed and the riding the wave of hope, the days and nights of watching him fade and fight and standing by helpless are burned into my brain and my heart.
I am inadequate to deal with “normal” – I long to escape the pain, the images that swirl in my brain waking and sleeping , the cruelty of cancer
and the cruelty of people
have taken such a toll. I don’t know who I am anymore so as once again I pace the house and watch the sunrise on another day of “trying to cope” – the normal……..
There was a study sent to me by one who walks my way- click on the jpg to enlarge and you can find the full PDF file here Article from Psych Medicine
And this morning another study along the lines of one that had also been sent to me a few weeks ago:
Why having a son puts a woman in a new frame of mind: DNA can pass into body from foetus before reaching brain
Cells pass into mother’s body before making it to brain
Male DNA may linger there for decades, scientists say
Study in journal by cancer research centre in Seattle
You see we try, those that have lost , those that have endured the daily torture of watching our children and their life slowly leaving them.
We try, we look for reasons why we aren’t
” moving on- getting on with life “
We try to find reasons why we see the sunrise and our children don’t.
We try not to make others uncomfortable in our presence.
We try to “be”- and we reach out to one another to find the kinship of those that understand, those that know the language of grief of losing your child minute by excruciating minute for weeks on end.
And as much as we try – we still walk the nights, dread the days and TRY our damnedest make it through another day. That is our “normal” AND IT IS SO BLOODY HARD
From the Center for Loss and Trauma
Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
I’ m surprised I am still writing this blog on this New Year’s Day. This blog should be the “last front page” by now and the “Oh! Her Again” should be up and running BUT at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a fini in “infinity”.
Looking back ( and I believe we have to in order to understand where we are and where we are going) I thought I would share this New Year’s Day some of the searches that bring people to this blog.
These are just “some” of the hundreds from yesterday in no particular order and some of course are multiple searches for the same subject:
school safety Lorain City Schools
ernest j king
is downtown Lorain safe?
industry lorain, ohio
“joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat”
that woman blog
let me refresh the signals from my end
woman crying with worry
brother sister letter
bash street kid
america’s youngest mayor chase ritenauer
hodgkins lymphoma curable?
strasbourg night cathedral
that woman’s weblog
angela ritchey do
viking funerals services
property values Lorain
the front fell off
ww1 german masonic
crime in Lorain
Once again the most searched this year has been Dachau, followed by “war” and religion. Locally (Lorain) the top searches have been about “safety/ crime” and “property development” followed by the school system ( although that has drawn the most daily readership locally) .
According to my annual web report- Continental US readership comes in at the top, with Canada and UK right up there, Southern Hemisphere (Australia and New Zealand) followed by Germany ( most translated language with french and spanish following) France, Spain Russia and then South America. The stats tell me that still less than 30% of readership is local ( Lorain/ Lorain County) . I am honoured to be told my writings have “longevity ” and are still in some of the top ten searches on a subject even after three years of being published
So a day in stats, a year in stats and hopefully the coming year will find an “ending” and a “beginning”……. I hope your 2012, no matter where you are, is all you wish it to be.
Today’s post marks the 1,000 post on this blog since I started “that woman” blog three years ago. How many words have been written? I couldn’t begin to count- it has been a written journey which has found me changed from that 1st January post.
In the beginning it was about finding the ending of certain things left undone after leaving the old WoM Blog – CRA being one of them . There are now 62 categories, 111 tags and the CRA which was done is now becoming “undone” once more .
The writings changed from advocacy to sheer terror as my son a month into this blog was diagnosed with the so-called curable cancer- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
that too came undone-
a family came undone -
life has been explored and death-
heartache and heroism-
and education -
Lorain and Loraine -the USA and Europe -linked in this little blog.
I never thought to get to 1,000. I thought I would write the last post on December 2009 the day my son flatlined
was the day I thought to flatline this blog.
Anger at a self-serving obituary written by those that hardly knew him and we barely knew brought me to the keyboard – the last words written about my son were not going to be a mockery of who he was. These people, whom we barely knew, making decisions based on their limited knowledge absolutely sickened me and it still does. I roused myself from the pain of his loss and sat once again at the keyboard
The journey commenced ,
the mask of the basilisks
http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/september-3rd-war-movin-on-hell-truly-is-other-people-chris-ritchey/slipped and closure denied caused the fingers to once again mate with the keys giving birth to post after post interspersed with life
http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/category/lorain-dude/as it happens outside the den walls.
There have been so many times when I have thought the next post is the final post- the post where the front page of this blog will not be refreshed but we are now at this 1,000 post .
As I have watched the numbers click off with each post I thought I will make the 1,000 post an ending BUT there is more to write on this journey so I will mark this 1,000 post by reiterating that all the posts no matter the content were the truth, the documentation that backs up any and all scenarios available.
I have tried to be as honest as I possibly can be, to write from my heart and my soul,
http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/to-be-or-not-to-be-why-and-wherefores/to give those that read a glimpse into a world as seen from a keyboard in the den and a mind that tries and is failing to make sense of that world, even if not always grammatically or politically correct
I will continue to try to do so until “that woman” gives way to OH! HER AGAIN BLOG but in the meantime number 10001 coming up . Thanks for reading, commenting and being there with me through this journey of words, life, anger and grief Loraine ( aka – THAT WOMAN)
I have hesitated to publish this post- it is a fair warning post and although extremely personal I believe it might help those who in recent days are questioning
“Why didn’t he or she call me – tell me ?”
Most people know someone or know of someone who have taken their own life. Those who are closest question
“why didn’t they …..” “I would have been there to help them”…. “get them help” ….. “why???? nothing is so bad as to end your life over”….. “I should’ve seen this coming” (
ED note : Assisted suicide and a terminal illness aside- that is a whole other topic.
In the past two years, since the death of my son, I have been in a state of a grief so overwhelming that I have no words to adequately describe the way it cripples me and yes! GUILT.
A guilt that actually is illogical – I know I did my best to help my son – I know there was nothing else I could have done – but there is still the thoughts everyday of “what if- why didn’t I try this” I bargained with fate or God or whatever, I did the take me instead deal , I would have gladly taken on his disease and pain if it meant he could live. There is a mother’s guilt that I wake in the morning and he doesn’t.
I sat by his bed. holding his hand, trying to understand what it was I was meant to do -how could I stop this from happening to my child- and how I was failing him. I KNOW logically it was out of my control – there was nothing more I could have done BUT that illogical guilt still eats at me everyday, I can no more dismiss it from my being than I can his dying.
The grief, I have written about , tried to explain its cold bone chilling ache that is part of me every hour , the sheer weight of it , how ,even after these many months, it is as debilitating as those first few days, how it eats at your very life. I have known the pain of death but none like this and the cold cruelty that followed only added to the pain and the “why didn’t I? “ guilt.
I cling on to any life line to get me though each day and night. Sometimes when it is so overwhelming I have to take a life pill. No! not drugs but I have to fight my way through my brain and emotional turbidity with logic. I focus on Nikki, Gavin , my mum, husband and friends to try to logically pull me out of the dark emotional maelstrom that engulfs me daily and nightly . Sometimes the pull of the maelstrom is stronger than logic, love and will and sometimes I am so tired of fighting its pull I don’t see how I can go on fighting.
I have tried the counselling – nothing more than a placebo in my world- the drugs- faith- works for a great many but as I have written earlier that is not my path and the experience I have had with those that profess faith and goodness in the death of my son leaves a lot to be desired and questioning .
I do know however, there are any number of people all over the world I can reach out to – who will help me through- various avenues I can take to ease the pain, they are a mere call away . I have used these life lines when I feel the grief becoming too overwhelming when I have warning of its build up.
Pain , pure physical strength sapping pain, that is what it is a cold weary mind numbing ache that you carry with you. This pain is there everyday – this losing of my son- the watching him die hourly- slipping away minute by minute – it is imprinted on my brain- every movement – every word of those last days- every beep of the monitor- every second that I was totally useless and could do nothing to stop the ebbing of his life- haunts me.
I relive those days , unbidden, over and over. The memories assault your senses as a trigger moment starts the whole thing over again- I can be driving, eating dinner, watering the garden yet be instantly transported into another time and place of such anguish.
But “life goes on” – I wonder how those people who are mere acquaintances or strangers who attended the lead up to the various events this past weekend, of which I was a more than cursory participant, realized it was taking a conscious effort on my part to get through the performance that has become my life. Did they know I was dreading the question “do you have children” because it could trigger the end of “the act”? Because those that carry the enormous weight of a depression, hurt, or fear are actors. To look at us we appear OK and are dealing with……BUT that is not always the case.
Depths of Despair – by Chris Ritchey
How many times have we read after someone commits suicide?-
they seemed fine , they seemed to be handling the situation-
( whether it was bullying, loss of loved ones, loss of hope, cruelty etc. They aren’t fine they have just become very good at putting on the costume of the person the world wants them to be. I know.
Drugs- they, the professionals, prescribe drugs to help you through some of the darker days- but when the drugs wear off the emotional maelstrom comes rushing back. In my case I took the “antidepressants” and they did their work. It was very strange what these drugs did (to me at least) – the nightmares still happened – the pain was still there – the loss still as great- except somehow the drugs removed you from the event . I can only describe what happened to me with these drugs as not being split in two as I usually am now but into three -
(1)the emotional wreck- with the pain and weight of this person I have become due to the death of Chris-
(2)the logical me - the remnant of who I used to be and then
(3) the “fog” person who was watching the other two parts of me from afar and “not caring” anesthetized as I was being sliced and diced emotionally.
I know I am not explaining this very well -there is probably a clinical explanation- BUT it was bad enough being divided into two let alone three. I also felt in my case the drugs were actually causing more issues than I could handle.
Your body and brain tries to protect itself from this weight of woe as it does when the body is attacked by a illnes or virus. There are days that even the strongest mind , the most logical will in the world can do nothing to protect self.
I have been lucky – for one thing the logical me has managed to win through BUT I have been there sucked into a place so dark , so painful so blindingly emotional , you can hardly breathe with the weight of it , you want to escape its sheer agony . You just want it to STOP- you feel you can no longer endure one more minute of this overpowering anguish that floods over you like some a great wave . You fight its pull to get to the surface only to feel its great power enveloping your sanity and your sense of self .
At such a time I can tell you there is no logical thought , no
let me call my friend , let me reach out, get help
Your being puts you in a place without hope – you aren’t thinking of tomorrow or of anyone else . You are just trying to stop the crushing weight of it all, the agony of blackness – you just want it to stop.
The part of me that is life has my daughter’s face as my talisman and has pulled me from the depths on more than one occasion in these past months.
I am exposing my most intimate moments for a couple of reasons – I believe strongly those that didn’t reach out to their loved ones and “made it stop” were in such a place of pain in their own mind and body there was no room for logic or love.
Those left should not wonder
why didn’t they”?
The cause of their great pain was all-powerful – logic, love, help and hope had been overwhelmed by a black hole of hopelessness , its inky black strength the ultimate victor in life’s struggle.
To those that have suffered such a loss I hope this small insight may help, it has been difficult to write but I promised at the start of this journey not to sugar coat my thoughts.
INFINITY by Chris Ritchey
The writing game -
Previously I have written about media manipulation and language when it came to Lorain. In particular the CRA debacle
and recently with regard to the importance of the usage of language as it pertains to our lawmakers
Can you really believe everything you read just because it is published?
Can a reader be mislead by just the absence of words?
Can the mere absence of a phrase or description or clarification tilt an article?
Can a clever turn of phrase lead the unsuspecting and less cynical of readers down a path directed by a writer whilst still being somewhat true to the facts?
And if that is the case should the whole article then be looked at with a view to overbalanced in the world of fair and balanced media?
And what difference does it really make?
As I have stated before published articles are often used in the court system where lives, property and rights are at stake.
Lorain County dot com – The Lorain forum had a poster directing the readers to the following article about Lorain and the Lorain LPD.
Excessive Force- Cleveland Scene Magazine- by Kyle Swenson
NOTE: THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT THE LPD/DOJ/MONTELON subject matter or in fact the Allen/ Smith case – readers already know my views on that aspect”
THIS POST IS ABOUT THE “WRITTEN WORD” and the importance of words- something else I have been exploring lately
I read the article written by Kyle Swenson – I have to say I liked and yes! enjoyed, the somewhat flowery, but very descriptive writing of Swenson. His writing was a change from the normal “plugged into a format” , sound bite reporting of late .
Swenson’s clever usage of the language I appreciated BUT as I read the “descriptive paragraph” introducing Lorain I was a little confused
Nestled on Lake Erie, the low-slung cityscape of old storefronts is dwarfed by the spidering black architecture of nearby steel mills, the longtime municipal heartbeat. Today, its working-class neighborhoods are a crazy quilt of gang turf; gunshots are common on the weed-cracked streets. Residents say they come home from work, bolt the door, and don’t dare peep out until sunup. Council members have been known to make their door-to-door rounds with Kevlar vests and handguns.
Swenson’s eloquent turn of phrase painted a very unattractive picture of Lorain. I could just see in my minds- eye the spidering black architecture dwarfing the store fronts
Lorain circa 1899
Swenson had got part of that picture in “one part of Lorain “ aptly described but those of us that live here KNOW that is not the whole picture of Lorain farther up the street in other wards or along the lake shore where Lorainites “nestle” we have views to delight and savour. And when they talk of “shots fired” well you can find them here see for yourself.
Shots Fired Along the Black River This Morning
Photo Mark Teleha
Yes, we have some definite road problems with potholes and weed filled surfaces – but we aren’t alone
PHOTO JOHN HORTON CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER Cleveland has some too actually.
A few years ago I attended a function in Cleveland with the “elite” I was the guest of an “entertainment critic” when the “uppity Cleveland entertainment critic” learned one of the areas covered by my host was Lorain –
“poor you” having to cover such an intellectually challenged area …. what do they have in the way of theatre? Do they even know what a live performance is in Lorain – how can you be bothered with nothing more exciting than poor “community theatre” snicker snicker-
My host was somewhat embarrassed knowing I was living in Lorain and had a great deal of experience with “snicker snicker” community theatre in my time.
And then the “critic” turned to me
Don’t tell me you are from LAHRAIN” -
No, I said I am from London – you know that little town in England where Cleveland theatre is seen as truck and bus and Cleveland referred to as the Mistake on the Lake- however even in that remote backwater we did hear of your river catching fire
So back to the media ……..
It was the following sentence in that short paragraph of 10 pages and over 4 thousand words that caused me to sigh. The picture drawn by Swenson gives “running for council” in Lorain a totally different slant – no wonder they need all these fundraisers I never realized the added expenses for a Lorain City Council “dress code”
Council members have been known to make their door-to-door rounds with Kevlar vests and handguns.
Now let us take this sentence and write it factually.
FORMER Lorain City Council member Dennis Flores, now a member of a block watch, on his own volition patrols his street, which is known for gang and drug activity, with a vest purchased by his friends and with a concealed weapon.
Just the little difference of a “s” “Council members ( plural) – Council members making their door to door rounds- leading the reader up a totally different path than the facts – to read that sentence one would believe our council members are armed with their vest”S” and handgun”S” whilst checking or politicking on our city streets all over Lorain .
So you see how one little missing word ( former) , one “s” ( members and vests and handguns” can make all the difference .
I CAN be grammatically challenged , spell the way I was taught the english language, have run-on sentences, but I am just a blogger and my own editor not held to the higher standard of those that are in the “real media”.
Reader Beware there is more than a “S” at stake , more than an absence of a word – reputations can be lost – perceptions tainted . the legal system flummoxed and a town castigated by the adding of a letter and absence of a “word” .
Beware the English language the Chronicle Telegram has this headline on the 4th of March 2011
Mother upset son was assigned to slave roll in social studies lesson
I would be upset too if my 10 year old had to roll slaves about-
NOTE: by 6 p.m. that evening the ” roll” had been changed to role – could that be a case of revisionist writing Can you imagine the poor Chronicle reader telling a friend
I know I am not crazy I swear I saw a story about a child being made to roll a slave but NOW it is gone
To be continued…………
The neighborhood bunch- mostly boys- I really can’t remember any girls except for my friend Helen. We were the tear-aways of 5 and 6 year olds. It was a different time then- mum’s were housewives and the “avenue” became our playground. We were sent “out” to play. We roamed from back garden to back garden, visions of mums with aprons usually drying their hands appearing at front doors to “check” as we “roamed our territory, the older ones keeping an eye on the “babies” among us.
Looking back on those times they were good times- a time of innocence. The Anderson Shelters that had protected our parents from the blitz became our forts to be protected, coal bunkers – great hiding places if somewhat filthy with coal dust .
Helen ( whose parents were Jewish and had escaped from the Nazis ) and I being girls and the weakest usually ended up being “the bad guys, the robbers to the boy cops , the Indians to their cowboys the Germans to their English”. We had no choice we were outnumbered and male egos prevailed at even such a young age
However, we sissy girls learned to hold our own in those formative years and there were times when the Indians outsmarted the cowboys, the robbers got away with the loot but the English always won – even we dared not let the Germans get away with anything or ever win a battle – our patriotism made us vulnerable we always “gave up and surrendered”.
There was one house on the street that we dare not play or invade as our games progressed up and down the avenue . It was not that it was spooky or derelict, in fact it was the same as all the other houses on the street. The front garden behind the garden wall was always awash with colour and beautiful roses.
No! it wasn’t the house as such that made us uncomfortable it was the woman who lived behind the garden wall. There was something not “normal”- something not quite right. She looked ordinary enough, her hair was greying but she wasn’t so very old ( as I remember now) but to a five-year old someone who must have been in her late 40′s was ancient.
When we tired of being the “bad guys” Helen and I would retreat to our dolls and mud pies and making “perfume” from flower petals- much to the annoyance of the boys. Even they though would not venture over the garden wall to gather the fallen rose petals from the house with the “strange lady”. She was one female who frightened even the toughest among them.
Then one day spying a great number of fallen petals of all sorts of colours, just right for the mixing of our special brand of perfume – I opened the gate and walked the path ( which seemed so long although it was just a matter of a few feet) to ask if I could have the petals.
She answered the door with a puzzled look finally lowering her gaze to what must have been a somewhat disconcerting sight – a golden-haired , grubby little girl who was asking for rose petals for perfume . I wonder what she thought at that moment ?
I remember her smiling and telling me to have all the rose petals I wanted and if I was careful of thorns I could take some roses to my mummy.
After that I would be at her house , playing behind the wall when the boys got to be too much like boys. I was safe they were too frightened to enter and see what was behind the wall.
Later I learned the lady scarcely ever left her house and garden. She had lost both her husband and her children in the war – she too was escaping behind the garden wall.
I think that I can identify with my “strange lady” you see she is no longer strange – but I also realize there is no escape from grief- it comes unbidden. We, who grieve a loss of their child live in the past and present. All the advice and why you are doing this and why this happening to you only helps until you are blindsided by the unbidden.
The past few days have been especially “dark” I can’t think of another description for the feeling. I am sure some “head Dr.” could diagnose my condition.
I try to avoid triggers and situations in these hours of “dark”. They are the days when you dread the night because as bad as the day is with its overwhelming loneliness and heartache you know that sleep will have to come eventually and your brain will work in such ways that the night will be one of torment.
But it does no good to wrap yourself in the armour of self- protection; the mere act of walking around the dining room table to plug a cell phone into its charger (as you have done night after night for many years) can without warning, transport you back instantly to walking around that dining room as you tried to ease the “labour pains” the night your son was born.
The parallel world comes unbidden and your night will be one of tears that fall as rose petals behind a garden wall.
SOURCE ( ED note please check out Leonnie Isaacs poem that goes with this artwork.
In the Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell- Don’t Ignore post and answer to
How are you ?
Most days I try to get through but then there are days that I am not sure I will make it through
There are no good days , at least I haven’t found any as yet, but there are people amateur and professional that have tried to give me a good day or at least move on. We have, as a family, had loads of advice. There is always a question I ask to those of the professional kind.
Have you lost a child, a son
Did you watch your child die -take his/her last breath -watch as their heart stopped- did you scream silently for them to hold on, not to die , even though you were the one that had to make the decision to let them go?
Do you know what it is like to relive that moment every time you close your eyes?
NO???? Ok! then well sorry but unless you have lived that you cannot possibly , even though you have years worth of “academic knowledge” help me because you cannot relate.
This is like nothing I have ever known- I have no words that adequately describe what is happening to me .
One Dr. (a lovely person) who is childless, told me
I smiled, thanked them for the advice and came home.
Take down from your house all photos, reminders of Chris put them away out of sight. Put the things that are most meaningful to you in a drawer and leave them there then when you want to remember go to the drawer relive your memories you get them out and then shut them away again.
As I walked up the path to the front door, through the wrought iron gate Chris had helped me choose and put up , to the pair of lions that flank the steps I once again saw the chip on the nose where a naughty little boy had tried to change the shape of the lion’s nose, still visible .
The front door where the welcome bells ( a mother’s day gift) scratch the wood- And I hadn’t even made it into the hallway where a little brass lion sits , a
I am sorry for defacing the lion
There are hundreds of reminders in this house, gifts, photos, artwork. I checked there isn’t one room including bathrooms-( candles too pretty to burn) ) not one wall that doesn’t hold some reminder of the baby, toddler, child, teenager, and young man who called this house home 27 years.
I wandered from room to room -I would need a storage unit, I haven’t even touched on the attic and basement. And then what would I keep in that drawer?
As I wandered realizing the daunting task that was ahead of me, the bricks on the fireplace caught my eye -
Yes the day of the “lion’s nose” had also found him trying to leave his name on the mortar of he brick, it is still there – first left as reminder to him NOT to do such a thing again, then forgotten with a “I must get to that” and now evidence that the child existed at all.
Which drawer? Would I choose the one where resides an envelope with a nugget of coal and some pencil flowers? Another I am sorry gift made for me after he had been particularly naughty. The homemade flowers delivered by dirty chubby hands looking for a softening of his mothers face, which he didn’t get until he handed her an envelope saying “if these don’t warm your heart ( the flowers )maybe this will” as the nugget of coal fell onto a white rug- but my heart was warmed and the smile and forgiveness followed.
In my world the scenes of “past life’ are so real , the colours, the voices, even those terrible last months and days, are with me – We all know about split personalities , various people living in one body/ brain.
I experience split lives, going through the motions of the present, simultaneously living the past- as it comes unbidden to the fore.
I can see the toddler as he stood at the top of stairs after finding out he could get out of his crib. I see him on the kitchen floor when, at two in the morning, he had decided he wanted more of the chocolate cake , this little boy cross-legged face full of cake looking innocently up from the mess he had made
The archway into the dining room where he would jump up and hit it as he grew leaving handprints on the off white wall. The dining room floor he helped me refinish whilst his dad was away just a 4 years ago. Even the damned ivy that is growing over the windows once again, he was supposed to cut it back for me. As it grows, it is a constant reminder of his not being here.
I sat on the couch where he had sat dazed and afraid ( although he tried not to show it) the day the Drs. told him you have cancer.
“Dad come up and kiss me goodnight”- Mum I need a drink., How come Nikki isn’t in bed?
Children’s laughter as they tore through the house playing their games. The bedroom ceiling fan he chose. The fish ,frogs and even Misty which drawer do they go in ? Which reminders are not as important as others?
Do I move out the house altogether? I see him in the street signs , I see him at Settlers’ Watch , I see him playing over at Irving , the baseballs and soccer balls lost on the roof, the broken window ( they never fixed just boarded over) all those years ago.
I see him on the storefront windows, on television, his ads, his design on signage in Cleveland. I am reminded every time I see a soccer ball, a Nike commercial, Adidas,
everytime I vacuum I look at his logo on the machine. I see him in my daughter’s eyes, in her smile – my grandson’s hands . The very sign on our street designed by my son.
No there isn’t a drawer that can contain and lock away my heart memories,
Photo Mark Teleha -artwork Chris Ritchey
there isn’t a storage shed anywhere in the world large enough to lock away and hold those memories.
My parallel world of the past cannot and will not allow confinement .
There truly are days that I wonder if I will make it through until tomorrow but I suppose the day I don’t is the day the heart memories and echoes will no longer cause the smiles, the wishing, the whying and nights of crying .
“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One - In search of my son- In search of me
Part Two – Tourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three - Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four - In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks
Part Five - Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six - The Unfinished Portrait
Part Seven- The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2) Part Two – Who Are We Really?
Part Eight- When Premonition Becomes Hindsight
Part Nine- When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten (a) – There is an “I” in Death
Part Ten (b)- I didn’t know my son- Chris Ritchey
Part Eleven- Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene
Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two
I get lots of comments most of them off the blog .
Some of them question,
Some just “hold my hand” ,
Some are worried I am becoming obsessed -
Some feel what has happened is a private matter -
Some are just uncomfortable that I am touching upon the “realm of death and religion” this muddying up the perception of the other world- the non sugar-coating is making things a little uncomfortable. And let us face it no one likes discomfort and yet the stats tell it all ……….there is an interest !!!!
So why do I write about this most uncomfortable of subjects and situations. I have explained here and here as to the reasons I am exploring every avenue of what happened to us in this “OUR STORY”-
The “story” of romance, death, thievery, ill-gotten gains, heros and heroines, religion , politics, lies and deception, cold cruelty , kindness, love and bitterness.
Truth and transparency has always been important to me in other aspects of my life- why not in this?
Uncomfortable as it is to read at times it is our truth and our life and journey at the moment.
Grammy said :
That, though very small, is a comfort. Someone actually listened.
I started to reply :
The letter from the Cardinal/Vatican didn’t actually bring me solace etc. or tell me anything I didn’t already know EXCEPT it was a validation from the hierarchy of the religious community that the Lombardi’s and their crew (that they hopefully pay more than lip service to )was in need of my forgiveness of such an act.
It was and is wrong in the eyes of their beliefs otherwise no forgiveness would be required.
I needed that documentation as I am not of their beliefs so I wanted to be sure that the church of their choice understood the need for a family’s closure . And I needed “in writing” for those that are also of their beliefs who are trying to “justify their actions”. by sending out emails of erroneous happenstance to defend the actions. ( Ah Brucee B you know not of what you write!)
Any good researcher , when delving into a situation or story , requires documentation and provenance -of paramount importance when trying to write the truth rather than a fictional perspective. ( Ah Brucee lesson No 1. )
This series was but a small stepping stone across the river of grief as I explore my son, his life and his death and all that made up the journey .
Too long have disease, and the actions of others beyond my comprehension or our control made up the swirling waters of doubt , loss and confusion- I refuse to let that be the case any longer
I am crossing my river to reach my son and take him back from lies and doubt …. AND WILD HORSES COULDN’T DRAG ME AWAY
It is for Gavin I write and the knowledge that one day he will know his Uncle Chris , the young man who was so looking forward to being a part of his life. He will know the story of his family and who they were in the thousands upon thousands of words, this journey will take. And hopefully he will see the Good the Bad and the Ugly and learn from this journey of ours.
It is for Nikki - who was accused of being a liar and was also accused of not knowing her brother as she read the letter stuffed in her dead brother’s clothes. Having him wrenched from her by cancer and cowardice was apparently not enough for his bride of 500 or so days.
I will give them closure .. I will give them back their Chris…… the only way I know how…
I can do nothing but show the injustice that was done to those he loved and show that indeed it was an injustice not born of faith but selfishness. I will chronicle the agony both emotionally and physically this act of “control’ has taken upon those I love .
I will show the truth and document each step as each ‘stepping stone of an answer” carries us across to the other side.
In this small 1st step I have found that my foundation of thought and conclusions with regard to my son , who has been so cruelly wrenched from us because of disease and words written on cheap paper is as I thought……
I have explored this part of the equation of religious beliefs and how they pertained to our loss.
( RELIGION )and those that preach shouldn’t have and needn’t have caused the pain to those that love their son and brother- they tried to bury the act along with his ashes- I will shed the light of their actions and the results of those decisions to all who care to read.
I am not going quietly into the night- The reliance on keeping death a private affair by “it just isn’t done to discuss these situations “ is not part of my make -up . I will discuss anything I choose because no matter how uncomfortable it is to read OUR STORY
IT IS LIFE CRUSHING TO LIVE IT!!!!
I am not obsessed as I explained to one writer -there is no end in obsession -there is AN END to this journey BUT we are only in the middle chapters….
TO BE CONTINUED ……..
Thursdays have become a trigger day for me . Thursday afternoons around 2:30 bring into my consciousness a memory video so full of hurt there are no words I am capable of writing to describe “it” and it is an “it” a living breathing ,cold soul destroying emptiness , a tentacled beast that wraps itself and feeds off your heart and being , “it” accompanies you like some invisible “secret unwanted friend” .
There has been no rest or time to heal at all in the last 6 1/2 months, wounds are still torn and bleeding. It was with disbelief that Nikki was told she needed to take Gavin to Clinic ( main campus) for an ultra sound on a Thursday at 2:30 and in the very same building and unit where we had to say goodbye to Chris. We tried to go anywhere but there:
No ! sorry, primary pediatrician, out of network, pediatric technician etc. etc. etc.
We geared ourselves up for the journey back to gut wrenching grief for a week. The day came , she and I and Gavin (innocent of all that was going on) approached the Clinic .
As we drove down the familiar entranceway our eyes were drawn to one window. It was he window of the room where my son, her brother had passed . The window , to the room where we had spent his last moments, the sun reflecting off of its large pane, like some obscene beacon calling us to remember and relive the worst time of our lives.
Valet Parking- once again- Oh! the times just one year ago that I had made that drop off, usually with a packed mini cooler of food from home for Chris , whilst he was undergoing stem cells transplants.
Nikki, looking calm to those that were waiting to get their cars , her mood and feelings only betrayed by the shaking of her hands as she buckled Gavin into his stroller.
The automatic doors opened welcoming us into our own hell of remembrance. We walked into the parallel world once more, through the corridors , passed the flooding memories of places we had frequented , down the same elevator , not speaking- each of us trying to make this journey seem normal.
I was inwardly waging a war against the panic attack that was coursing through my being, the desire to run , run anywhere but not here , not to be back in this place of hope and death.
We turned the corner and there it was the “waiting room” that same damned waiting room where just one year ago I had sat waiting for other scans and tests , a port to be put in and port to be taken out .
The last time I had sat in this particular waiting room I was filled with hope for my son, June 29th ,2009. I had sat there alone as the port was coming out and he was “cancer free”- I watched the TV in that waiting room , Chis’ Meinke commercial playing on CNN and held onto the thought that was a good omen.
We had left that waiting room , he and I went to his oncologist for the good news .We ran out of there to two of us breathing the fresh air of success and living – full of relief and to a celebratory late lunch – Chris was full of plans that day , we laughed , cried a little and enjoyed- only to have the obscenity of cancer make its presence known two weeks later.
Nothing had changed in that waiting room, still the chairs were filled with people and their own stories. Nikki went to the desk where a familiar face still took the information as they had done when Chris signed in .
There was no reaction from those who waited so the scream that was exploding through me must have remained silent, the tears streaming from my eyes caught by the bottom rim of the sun glasses puddling and filling the space between eyes and cheeks- trapped as were we!
Neither Nikki or I said a word as to what each of us was thinking and feeling, we didn’t have to- we knew- to speak out loud would’ve set off an emotional earthquake neither of us could have been able to control.
Gavin, thankfully and blissfully unaware, decided to make his presence known to all and sundry and kept us grounded. Blue eyes full of curiousity , little legs wanting to explore this strange world., little hands trying to reach door handles -just out of reach .
Mother and son went into the room for the test, leaving me once again to wait and worry and remember.
The test was good, Gavin was hungry and ready to roll, Nikki still shaking- not only ( I believe ) from reliving the past months but experiencing the fear that follows every mother when it comes to her child, her son and something maybe not right. It is a fear that never goes away as long as a mother lives. This journey upon which she has recently embarked.
We left the Clinic, waited once again for the Valet Parking – standing in the same spot we had stood so many times before some days with hope another with despair. The parallel world loathe to release us and the “it” joined us on our journey home having grown all-powerful once more fed and sated by the meal of memory.