Remembering The Victims of the Highland Park Parade Shooting

This makes me sick and SO very angry. The police in Illinois who knew this punk, who interviewed him at least twice, they all have blood on their hands. He had already tried getting into the local Chabad synagogue, which is two miles from where this took place. Thankfully, the Rabbi turned him away. Still, people lost their lives and so many others were terribly injured. They have since declared an 8th casualty.

Loss, Grief, and Solitude

I don’t have much to offer right now. The past few days have been fraught with sad news. My best friend buried her Grandfather (It took a few days for the body to be flown out of the United States to its final resting place.), and the other is burying her father, who passed away this morning. Both lived long lives, but there are mixed emotions for those involved, and I feel it.

These issues bring up my own losses, because I am dealing with a lot of trauma at the moment. As one person said to me, “You know how it is, because you did all of this by yourself.” That’s right; I did. I arranged everything by myself. Two funerals. A headstone. An unveiling. I have not been back since, but I need to go and try to get a feel for things because avoiding it is not helping me.

I remember asking a family member about a word for the headstone and being told, “I’m not paying for it; they weren’t MY parents.” Yeah, my jaw dropped for a second before I composed myself. All I did was ask if they wanted a word added to one side of the stone. I displayed an act of kindness which shouldn’t have been shunned, and yes, I paid for the word and the stone. I showed respect to someone who disrespects me constantly. Nothing has changed in almost thirteen years. I see it, and I’m paying attention. I don’t have to understand why this person chooses to behave this way towards me, I only have to understand and control my response to it.

Grief and loss were once the only things I felt I had to offer others, but not anymore. Now I see myself clearly and I know I am not the cause for these things. In fact, I’m actually the person who will offer someone the most guidance and support. If my pain can help someone else, then I will allow that, but my pain isn’t going to be used against me.

I’ll be back soon, hopefully with better news.

Midnight Musings

I may have shared the quote below last year around this time, or not. If it’s repetitive, it’s not intentional.

My mind has been focused a lot these days on home and my deceased loved ones.

Some people leave their hometowns and eventually feel no ties to wherever it is they’re from. I’m not one of them.

Home is deeply engrained in my soul. Going back is painful. And yet, the streets know my name and my blood feels calmer there. It’s more than a place, more than memories, and more than one particular moment. It simply IS.

When asked where I’m from, it’s an automatic reply. In Massachusetts, they ask because I, “talk funny”. It rarely occurs to them that I simply don’t have a Boston accent. Having filmed periodically over the last few months, I have noticed that, on film, I don’t sound the way I do in my daily life. I have, however, noticed that my accent (Which is one of many. Polyglots can often find themselves “stuck” in an accent if they’ve been thinking in a language and actively using it. I regularly take on an accent if I’ve talked to someone who isn’t American and speaks a language I know, or am extremely familiar with. In regular conversation with a friend, he jokingly noticed my “perfect London accent.” As I type this, I can hear his voice and in turn, my brain switches into the accent he mentioned. I’ve been doing it a lot lately without realizing it. 🤷 He refers to it as “Star Bird Lisa”. That’s a compliment.) is this overly perfected, “middle of nowhere” American English. I NEVER noticed the gradual change until my best friend pointed it out. But when I’m exhausted beyond words, I hear my accent completely change. Inevitably, each one will end up on film. Hopefully I’ll amuse someone besides myself. 

Where was I going with this? Home. It’s not just a place. It’s my heart.

Sleep well, mes amis. 😗

“The tears I feel today
I’ll wait to shed tomorrow.
Though I’ll not sleep this night
Nor find surcease from sorrow.
My eyes must keep their sight:
I dare not be tear-blinded.
I must be free to talk
Not choked with grief, clear-minded.
My mouth cannot betray
The anguish that I know.
Yes, I’ll keep my tears til later:
But my grief will never go.”
―Anne McCaffrey

*In Memory Of My Grandfather…Великою людиною дійсно ніколи не може бути втрачено або забуто- A great man can never truly be lost or forgotten.*

Eleven Years Ago

IMG_20181223_125722_837

I buried my father eleven years ago today. It is the exact day; a cold Sunday that seemed to go on forever. When a funeral home employee pulled me aside that day and asked me to identify the body, I tried holding my brother back, in an attempt to shield him from what I’d just seen. It was not a peaceful image, and it still haunts me to some extent.  

So YES, the holidays are hard, even though Chanukah and Yule are over. Minimal celebration was had this year. It was as if I didn’t exist and YES, THAT HURT.

Eleven years ago, I eulogized my father in front of family and friends (Many of his coworkers attended, and we were quite surprised to discover how loved my father was. At the end of the service, one woman came up to me to tell me how much I meant to him; how he always lit up whenever I would call him. It was hard to compartmentalize the information at the time, and it’s hard now, too.), and his nieces, nephews, great niece, and great nephews didn’t even bother to show up. 😡 They didn’t call, didn’t send a card, and they didn’t acknowledge what my mother, brother, and I were going through. My mother’s extended family was not much better. When someone is more interested in their spin class instead of the death of a family member, I should be permitted to shoot them in the ass, thus making spin class unnecessary.

The family member who called the night of my father’s funeral and told me “G-d isn’t ready for your mother yet.” 😲😡 #InsensitiveAF I don’t think I’ll EVER be able to forgive her for putting that message out into the Universe, because five months later, I had to return and do the whole thing all over again. She offered to be there for me after the fact, but after a few months, I soon realized her guilt taught her nothing and my contact with her ended. 

We knew my father was dying. It was not a secret. He had terminal cancer. I began writing the eulogy in late September, and I finalized it around 2:00 a.m. the morning of the funeral service. With my Mom, it was so unexpected for me that I wrote everything at the last minute. I’m not really sure how I got through either eulogy, but I remember reading them and trying to emotionally detach.   

The holidays are hard for so many people, all for different reasons.

I’m SO PROUD of my amazing friends who baked for people who are suffering so they wouldn’t feel alone or be forgotten, those who passed over time with family in order to help feed the homeless, those who participated in charity fundraisers to help those in need, those who sponsored families to ensure there would be gifts, food, and necessities, and those who donated their birthdays this month to raise money for worthy charities.

Today, I’m trying not to revisit the pain. I’m trying to keep my emotions in check because I KNOW I’m still angry. I also know I have every right to be. My feelings are valid.

Check on your strong friends these next few weeks. Sometimes, the holidays shatter our lives. It may not be permanent, but right now, it certainly feels that way. 😦

I’m okay-ish, but I’m not good. I don’t think people who haven’t experienced loss quite like I have are able to fully understand what it takes each day to get out of bed and live. I know so many people who have never been to a funeral or lost anyone. They have Great-Great-Grandparents who are still alive (which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.)! Their naivete is unbelievable, but hopefully they will understand at some point. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, but I do worry about those who lack empathy and compassion. Where is their humanity?!

Today, I got to relive the horror of what my brother and I have been through. Our text messages to each other were short, simple, and impersonal, neither one bringing the subject up. I know we’re both thinking it, though. I know it is too hard for him to fully focus on, so I take up the responsibility. We’re as different as we are alike, but last year he told me “You are the best of both Mom and Dad. You inherited all their goodness.” I was so stunned by his comment, and now it just makes me wonder because I’d never use the word “good” to describe myself. Perhaps he sees something I don’t. In many respects, I am my own worst critic.

If it wasn’t for medication prescribed for Complex PTSD, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the holidays. I’m barely keeping it together, but my brother’s words… They kind of stick in the back of my mind. I have witnessed so much goodness in him, so I think he might be overestimating me in some capacity.

Regardless, this is rough day for me. The fact that I’ve had a migraine since last weekend hasn’t made things better, either. C’est la vie. Somehow, we survive specific life experiences and we move on, but I’m far from healed. That’s been part of my focus this year; learning how to heal.    

copyright 2018 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All written work may not be re-posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under United States and International copyright laws. Additional protection is covered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  

 

1936-2018

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” ―John McCain

I’m not obnoxiously political, but my heart goes out to the McCain family. Having lost many relatives to cancer, including my Grandmother, father, Uncle, and many cousins, this hit me hard. My father’s cancer was rare and it spread to his brain, leaving him unable to communicate with anyone, except me. He battled rare forms of cancer for fifteen years. I know how difficult the journey is, and how helpless one can feel in the midst of the battle.

This isn’t about being a Republican, Democrat, or purple kangaroo; it’s about humanity and compassion. John’s wife & family will be in my prayers. G-d rest and Bless his soul. 😥😢 And YES, I’m sitting here in tears. Not news I expected to hear so quickly.

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.” John McCain

 

With Love

“Your life was a blessing, your memory a treasure. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.” -Unknown

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure”.

You were everything to me for nearly eighteen years. My heart is heavy today, as I look up at the box containing your ashes, a decision I had to make that broke me. I promise to move them into something special as soon as possible, and I promise to find a locket to keep you with me, always.

Ya lyublyu tyebya fsyei dushoj. (I love you with all of my soul.)