Preparing To Sit Shiva

Update on 6/20: Link was removed around the $4650 mark by the person who started it (A cousin who I am not related to, as I am family from the other side.). I will add in any additional fundraising endeavors, as I know some help *might* be needed. I am waiting to hear back, but might not know anything for a few additional days.

I am sorry for the sudden shift, but this is overwhelming and I’m not okay. I’ve only just been given the news.

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.

I Know For Certain…

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.” —Leo Buscaglia

It seems like yesterday. I blinked and the day was here. It has heartbreakingly been ten years since my Uncle died, and I miss him fiercely.

I remember the morning my brother said, “Um, I have something to tell you. You’re going to be upset.” I saw the look on his face and catalogued all of the important people left in my life, and then he said your name. I fell down half a flight of stairs to my feet, and crumbled in disbelief. My brother later admitted he was afraid to tell me at all, but knew if I heard it from anyone else, it would be wrong. He was cringing as he watched my reaction and told me how it happened. I would later hear more, but in the immediate moment, I was numb beyond words.

I miss having a completely devoted family member who always had my back. He always looked out for me, in both large and small ways. Because we looked so much alike, people always thought I was his daughter. Even passing strangers would immediately see us as father and daughter.

He gave me an extremely expensive education (Three separate degrees.); which is something he was not obligated to do in any way, shape, or form. He wanted me to follow my dreams with ZERO debt in the end, and he encouraged me to use my voice and make a difference. He believed in me. The gesture came from a sense of love and honor; he NEVER threw anything in my face or abused our relationship.

He was a friend, a confidant, a partner-in-crime, and he taught me so much about life and how to navigate it by learning from his mistakes. He was enigmatic, loyal, full of wisdom, and always sought to help others. He generously gave his time, attention, and would listen to people talk for hours without saying a word. “It costs nothing to listen to someone and be kind.” He genuinely heard them.

My Grandfather and Uncle were the finest men to ever exist. I’m eternally grateful for his role in my life. Te amo, Zio. I will see you on the other side.

Discussions of Funerals and Such

Today is the funeral of a friend of the family who died as a result of Covid 19. My brother is there now, and there’s nothing I can do except be encouraging, even though it puts me into the headspace where I relive every funeral I’ve ever been to. Funerals aren’t usually anyone’s cup of tea, but my brother especially, is not good with them. He has his reasons, and they’re perfectly understandable. That’s why he texted me this morning to ask if he looked okay and to go over certain things since we don’t usually get asked to attend non-Jewish funerals. There are religious and cultural differences between the two, believe me.

I’m in an okay element at the majority of funerals I attend. I’m being brutally honest when I say I’m invited to funerals, but no one ever invites me to their wedding. I’m serious about this, too, so don’t invite me to a wedding out of pity. I have nothing to offer there.

Having always been honest about life and death is likely crucial to how I handle things as an adult. My mother didn’t try to pretty it up for me when my Grandfather died, or when subsequent family members passed away after the fact. There were no bullshit stories in my home growing up, and I had no tolerance when people attempted bullshit stories with me. I haven’t changed on that level.

I cringe when people tell me how they (tried to) explain death to a child (at age three-ish or so), and fucked up royally (My words, not theirs. They think they did the right thing. My eyes rolled to Japan and are on their way back. Excuse me one moment.). I’m mortified by the shit they tell their kids because that level of dishonesty will shape them as they get older, and I’m not good with it. To this day, I still can’t tolerate the lies people tell. If you ever wonder how dishonest you come off, ask me and I’ll tell you.

Yes, I was the kid who told all the other kids that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real. And I’d do it all over again, too. I mildly got in trouble for my honesty growing up, but it was mostly in the sense that my mother understood why I was being so honest, and told me it was the responsibility of other parents to also be honest with their children, or not. And if “not” was on the table, then I needed to try and keep my mouth shut, so as not to interfere with what they wanted their children to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been on board with that.

In my eyes, a funeral is where you go and pay your respects. You’re not doing it for you or those involved (unless you’re really close with them), you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Period. Respect is something I find lacking in so many relationships these days, and it’s disgusting to me. If you are unable to attend, then you send something, based solely on your relationship with the survivors of the deceased. I generally send cards and fruit baskets, but last year, when my cousins lost their mother to cancer, I had trees planted in Israel in memory of her, because I knew it would mean more to them, and it did.

When my father passed away, I sorted through hundreds of cards. I’m not exaggerating; cards came daily for over three months, and there were a decent amount of people at his funeral. When my mother passed away, I didn’t get five cards in total, and I got only three phone calls. It was bizarre as hell. My support system (i.e: Family) sucked then and it sucks even worse now. I cope differently than I used to. The person who buried her parents five months apart is a completely different woman now. I am colder, harsher, and darker, but I respect myself more for that than I once did. You see, these hard things change you, and when they do, you should honor the change, and not think of it as something awful. Change means growth. That’s not negative, and don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Did I want to burn my Aunt and Uncle’s house down after my father’s funeral? Absolutely, but I didn’t (Instead, I marched over to my Uncle’s grave and tore his spirit a new asshole. It felt good to get the anger out of my system, in the moment.). Did I want to rip people to shreds at my mother’s funeral? Yes. Instead, I stayed quiet, behind dark sunglasses, like a lady, and spoke when spoken to, after eulogizing my mother. I admire the woman I was that day because behind her pain, she was poised as hell. I am still poised. If you’re kind to me, I will be kind in turn. If you’re disrespectful, it’s not beneath me to throw you into the nearest open grave and shovel dirt over you. Everyone picks their own poison with me, no pun intended.

Today, I am sad. I’m sad that people still don’t seem to understand how serious this pandemic is and I’m sad many people have had to say goodbye to loved ones way too soon, and I’m angry with the knowledge that much of this could have been prevented.

I’d like to go back to normal. I’d like to not have to wear a mask (I’ve nearly walked out without one so many times.). I’d like to not have to worry about whether or not I’ve touched something that may be contaminated, etc. I’d like for people to feel safe again and not be worried, but I’m too realistic for that. Naturally, I have definitive opinions on the three vaccines that were pushed through and approved in less than a year, too, but that’s a discussion for another day and, possibly, a different audience entirely.

For today, I wish everyone the best and hope that you’re safe, healthy, and coping to the best of your ability. If you’re not, please know you’re not alone.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Beginnings, Endings, and New Beginnings

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It’s utterly surreal how much my life has changed in the last eight years. I set out on a specific course, reached a major fork in the road, chose a direction, a dream, and now I am starting over with a dream I’ve somehow managed to keep hidden in the back of my mind, all the while making movements towards it. “Everything happens for a reason…” Sometimes that sounds like horse-shit and other times, it’s the absolute truth.

In the last eight years I have lost, loved, lost, and continued to love. Every single time I think I am shut off and that my capacity for love is gone, I am proven wrong. On this day last year, I brought an angel home. Today that angel is officially a year old and while there are a great many types of love, this one is pure and special. I feel blessed and honored to be in the presence of this love. This is the kind of love that keeps you alive and gives you purpose. It reminds you to keep fighting and keep living, even when you truly don’t want to. Even when you say “No more!”, that love is present and let’s you know that it’s okay to feel the way you do, and that you’re completely accepted.

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Once or twice a year, I do a Celtic Cross Tarot Card reading for myself. I don’t do readings for anyone else because it makes me uncomfortable, but my own readings are so accurate that they bring me to tears. My most recent reading was dead-on accurate and I remember being slightly in denial at the time, but now I realize it was a message, and it was telling me exactly what I’ve been telling myself for the last few years. I liken it to a loved one treating you badly in public and a stranger stopping you to tell you that you deserve better. You KNOW you deserve better in your heart of hearts, but sometimes hearing it from someone else’s mouth is the push you need. Many of my readings are like that. In fact, all of them are. I’m really quite disturbing with the metaphysical.

Today would normally be a celebration of something else, but this year I celebrate love and new beginnings. That is the right direction, that is the answer, and I needn’t attempt to dissuade myself when I know the answers.

My mother wrote a letter to me before I was born. I found it after she died. It said “Sometimes you have put yourself first, but it doesn’t mean you’re being selfish.” She was a supremely unselfish woman and she raised me to be pretty unselfish as well. Of all the people I have lost, it’s my Mom’s voice that I can’t always remember, until I read something she wrote or a memory comes flooding back and I hear her say my name the way only three people in my life ever did. Looking at photos this morning, I realized just how much I miss my family and how I’ve never given myself time to grieve.

Thankfully, I know that there are all a part of who I am and that they’re not truly gone. Bits and pieces of each of them live on inside of me, and so, with every ending comes a new beginning.

This phoenix is ready to spread her wings and fly. She’s already been through the fire.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Beltane Blessings To All

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Beltane Blessings everyone! 🙂 I wish I were able to enjoy this holiday as I once did, but seeing as how it is the anniversary of a loved ones’ death, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow. Tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of the death of a beloved cat, so I’ve decided to take it easy this weekend and do my best to decompress. This week has already been stressful to the point of severe darkness.

I am still trying hard to focus on the manuscript I’m working on. You KNOW you have flipped over to the dark side of OCD when you find something wrong with your own work every single time you open the file. I keep making changes and then I have to remind myself that revisions will be made by the author, and it will be edited a final time. So, I need to push forward and let some, if not all, of the nagging in my brain go. I can’t really afford to rip any hair out of my head. Short hair, on me, is not a good look.

If you’re going to the movies this weekend, please let me know how the new Avengers movie is. I am really looking forward to seeing it. Unfortunately, I’ll have to get it on DVD because I simply do not have the time now for a movie or anything even remotely social on an external level. It’s quite sad, really, but I suspect it will be quite a while before I am able to focus on my social life, or even mild entertainment. For now, my DVR is difficult enough.

Last night I watched my team lose Game 1 (I’m going to hunt Henrik Lundqvist down and have a little chat with him about his idea of goaltending. I didn’t have time last night to threaten to beat him with his own stick when he allowed the Caps to win with 1 second left on the clock!! I’d rather sit through overtime than have my team lose at home. UGH!) of the second round of the playoffs, flipped over to The Blacklist, and then went to bed. That means there’s approximately 8-9 hours of “How much do I WATCH?!” on my DVR. If you saw the queue, you’d think I had absolutely no brain cells OR a lot of free time on my hands. I have all of my brain cells, that I’m aware of, and damn near no free time on my hands. If I had free time, I’d use it to murder my neighbor across the street who is currently mowing his lawn for the third time this week. The first two times were while I was trying not to cave my own skull in from migraines. Each time he saw another neighbor mowing within a 1-3 house range, which automatically spurred him to come out and proceed to mow, trim, and be a pain in the ass. I suspect now he is trying to make it even shorter than it was two days ago, before we get rain. Either the man is incredibly bored to be mowing in 50 degree weather OR he needs a hobby. I’m thinking it’s a combination of both. No one needs to mow their lawn that often. This is NOT a golf course or Yankee Stadium, nor is it a football field with real grass on it. Unless you’ve somehow managed to use 10-30 bottles of Miracle-Gro in a matter of days, you don’t need to be out there every few days mowing the same patch of grass over and over again. It’s borderline psychotic. (Plus, every time I sneeze from the smell of cut grass wafting in, which drives me allergies insane, my kitten mimics the sound with a meowish squeak. She feels my pain.) The fact that another neighbor across the street just joined in on this madness makes me feel like I’m listening to a dentist’s drill on a loop.

When you suffer from migraines, you become incredibly sensitive to noise. I rarely mind good music (I said GOOD.) and I can tolerate certain things at an extremely low level, but everything else is just a great big NO and has been for almost 18 years. My migraines have progressively gotten worse, so I’m extremely audio-sensitive and equally photosensitive. For me, the latter is far easier to manage most days, but especially on dark, grey days like today.

Okay peeps, I am going back to work, or at the very least, I am going to try. Enjoy your day and have an awesome weekend. 🙂

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copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Sleep Interrupted

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I was in bed last night right after The Blacklist ended (If you don’t watch this show, you should. I never intended for it to become something I watch, but the pilot had me hooked from day one.). I flew up the steps, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and after double-checking cat bowls, got into bed. I slept well, until about 5:30 when I started smelling coffee. You know what that means, right?

Just yesterday I told Him “Do not touch my non-dairy creamer. I need it for my tea.” I made threats, none of which were nice, all of which were serious. I take tea time very seriously. When you drink 3-5 cups of tea a day, it’s clearly something you enjoy. I like mine a certain way and plain is not on that list.

I went downstairs in search of the smell, but He was in hiding, and rightly so. When I find him, it won’t be pretty. I fed cat and kitten and stomped back up the steps, furious, but still in need of additional beauty sleep. I was able to get a little more sleep, and have been awake ever since. He is going out later and replacing my creamer because I am not pleased that I can’t have tea until it arrives. Bastard.

This morning, waking up was not what I had in mind at all. It feels like a Saturday, perhaps because it is deathly quiet out. Apparently the kids are not in school this week, which makes no sense to me since Passover is next week and I don’t know how prudent it is for them to have two weeks off, but whatever. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

I’m stressed and I HURT. The weather keeps going back and forth between the 20’s and the 60’s, and while it is utterly beautiful to have milder temperatures, even if it’s a rainy day, it still messes with my body.

I have no plans this holiday weekend. Technically, Passover begins tonight at sundown. My family is scattered across the States and overseas, so I’m not attending any seders, nor was I invited to any. I will keep editing this manuscript so that I can move on to the others she has in store for me, and watch The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. I’m trying to make tentative plans for tomorrow, just to be able to enjoy the day for a few hours out of doors, but nothing is etched in stone. If I’m feeling up to it, maybe I’ll just take a long walk.

As I’ve said before, the holidays are lonely. I miss my parents and Grandparents terribly. Loss often feels like it happened yesterday, but the years come and go and life moves on, even if the pain of each loss remains with you. I find myself astounded by people who never seem to be affected by the loss of a loved one, who return to work immediately, who never discuss the person again, etc. Are people really that cold and detached, or is that the “coping mechanism” utilized by most people? What is your take on that?

Regardless of what you celebrate, I wish you a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, laughter, joy, and peace. Me? I just want my tea. LOL.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Spiritual Awakening

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I woke up this morning hearing my name being called. At 4:00 a.m. I woke up screaming, mostly because I’m tired, in pain, and did not want to be disturbed. I truly wanted to wake up refreshed, even if it meant I had to take something for pain later on, I just wanted the goddamn rest!

But when I sat up and took inventory, the only noise was from the central air, lightly blowing heat into the room (It was freezing last night, which is a far cry from how warm it has gotten since then.). I decided to investigate this further. For starters, I was pissed and two, I had just scared the hell out of cat and kitten, who had been sound asleep with me; one wrapped around me like ivy, the other off to the side staring at me like I’d just grown three additional heads.

In fairness, I checked EVERYTHING. Lights off? Check. TV off? Check. Cell phone off? Check. Anything else that could or would make noise was either unplugged or nowhere near me to actually be saying my name repeatedly. So, that took care of logic. But the simple fact is, in my life, where intuition rules and logic does not, why was I bothering to go with logic at all when I already knew that I’d turned every single thing off the night before?

It’s not like it was “noise”. It was a man’s voice repeatedly calling out for me. If that’s weird to you, I have to say that it’s par for the course in my life. Unfortunately, the voice was not distinctive, so I can’t say for sure who it was that needed me to wake up and pay attention.

When things of this nature happen, the first thing I do is check the time. That’s probably odd to the everyday, average person, but to someone who has studied numerology and has her life path number tattooed on her, it’s not odd at all. Spirits will often communicate to people in symbols, and numbers and time are two things that are easy enough to catch when they are repetitive. The time-frame was off, so I can only say that I’ve been thinking about a male relative for the last few days. Earlier, when I was cleaning out my closet, I found something of his and put it in the “Keep” pile immediately, pausing briefly because I have NO idea how it got in my closet, or when.

This relative passed away almost four years ago. I’m shocked that so much time has passed because it still hurts me as if it just happened.

Soon after his very sudden passing, I had a dream where he let me know he was okay. Again, this is not uncommon in my life. Lately, I’ve found myself avoiding photos, video, and anything pertaining to him because I often think “If he were here, he’d fix this.” or “If he were here, everything would be better.” He was more than just my family, he was the person that automatically had your back no matter what. He was the person who did things for you that he did not have to do, and he did it completely out of love, not because he wanted anyone to be indebted to him, be it figuratively or other. He worked hard, loved hard, cared hard, and he never made me feel like I was anything short of ridiculously special.

Some people’s lives are cut short by things they didn’t know they had, like a bad heart or cancer that gave the person no indication whatsoever that something was wrong. I’ll never forget getting the news, because my brother had to be the one to tell me. He knew in advance that this was NOT going to go well. I saw him visibly cringe before he spoke. I was halfway down my stairs when he spit the words out. I nearly fell those last few steps. I remember sinking to the floor at the bottom of the stairs in absolute disbelief. I actually said “You’re lying.”

He wasn’t. I spent months obsessing over every single detail that led to his death. It still haunts me.

I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, but I always said that if I lost my mother and him, I’d have to be buried with them. I lost my mother three years before I lost him. Their dates of death are just days apart. I lost her to damn near the exact same thing. Both too young to die. Both stolen from me. Both let me know they were okay within three days of passing away.

A lot of people think their mind is playing tricks on them; that they want to see their loved one so badly that they’re seeing “what they want to see”. I feel bad for you if you do not understand what a gift it is to get that moment where your loved one cares enough to say “I’m okay, and you will be too.”

If you’re a spiritual person and you believe in the afterlife, I strongly recommend reading “One Last Time” by John Edward. You can walk away from it the way I did 15 years ago, as a completely different person, or you can put it down and never pick it up again, the choice is entirely up to you.

Sometimes we are defined by the things that happen to use and how we cope in the aftermath, and other times we are defined by small moments, like reading a book, and walking away with a completely changed life. It’s the difference between being plugged in to life and plugged in to life and all its many nuances, things you never would have noticed without a tiny push in the right direction.

Being spiritual and believing in the afterlife is different from being religious. You can religious, and not be spiritual, and vice versa. So, if what I’ve said makes you uncomfortable, I simply challenge you to find a copy of this book and read it. After all, what have you got to lose?

Fierce loves knows no boundaries, not even death.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Is Time Really The Great Healer?

Each year on her birthday and the anniversary of her death, I try to memorialize my mother  in some way. Writing is the best way I know how, outside of talking about her with those that loved her. One day my children will be able to look back on what is written about their Grandmother, they will be able to see photos of her, hear stories, and they will know that her memory lives on through me.

I’ve always been a highly creative individual, but I started off as a gymnast. Gymnastics was everything to me. My Mom encouraged this as I jumped, leaped, tumbled, twisted, did back handsprings, splits, and things that most normal people do not do from parallel or uneven bars. I was always in motion. Somewhere in the middle of my journey, I became a writer. Once I knew there wasn’t going to be a move to Colorado Springs or an Olympics in my future, the writer was fully birthed.

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My Mom turned my quiet, shy, introverted voice into a strong, in your face, confident human being, someone who is not afraid to speak up or speak out. She gave me rules, structure, and taught me boundaries that I use to this day. She always said I wrote with a supreme sense of fairness, but that I’d knock a person down with fifty words, or a hundred, however many it took. All of these things are still true.

When I got angry, she would always say “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Somewhere along the line, the pen became my sword. I became a living, breathing fencer of words. I don’t just write that way, it’s how I speak as well. Every once in a while I will look back on a letter I have written in a situation and I’m floored by my way with words, or how I handled something in the moment. Occasionally I cringe at the words that come out of my mouth and how harsh they sound, and other times, I know I am completely justified in my words, as well as my tone. I don’t play games and I don’t back down. I might take a step back so as not to end up in jail, but I have a supreme sense of right and wrong, and I will fight that to the death.

I can say with total assurance that if it had not been for my mother’s belief in my ability as a writer, Poison In Lethal Doses might never have existed. I’ve been writing articles under that banner for 20 years and I do feel a lot of the credit is owed to her.

In so many moments and situations, my mother would look at me in awe of how I handled myself, or she’d look at me with pride. I now see other people look at me with similar awe in how I handle certain situations and people, and how I don’t back down or take no for an answer. I was born this way, it wasn’t something anyone taught me, but whenever I do it, whenever I am completely myself, I am reminded of who I am and how proud it always made her.

The last seven years without my mother have been difficult and, at times, quite torturous. Losing a parent young is difficult, but I lost both of my parents, and my mother was my best friend. Whoever says “Time heals all wounds.” probably hasn’t been smacked with quite so much in such a short period of time.

I still find myself thinking “I must tell her about this book…” or “I must tell her about this show.”, and then I get emotional, because she’s not here. When I need strength, sometimes I’ll reach for my Mom’s ring or a pendant she wore every single day.

My Mom & I always had an agreement about “the other side” and getting messages to one another. The spiritual plane was a very common topic of discussion in my life. People can discredit that to their heart’s desire, but I know my mother and I know exactly what I experienced. I didn’t study what I studied for anyone to come along and say “I don’t believe in that.” That’s fine for you, don’t believe in it, but don’t try and take it away from those that know it exists, and know that it’s real, because that is rude and disrespectful. I wasn’t raised to be like that, but was I encouraged to stand up for myself and speak up? Absolutely. Having a voice as a writer helped me overcome my shyness. I still have my quiet moments, but I am by no means shy.

Being a woman in this world can be incredibly empowering, and it can be an immense hindrance at times as well. The intense side of me is a fighter that can do anything, and the Fibromyalgia side says “I’m sick. I need help. I am staying in bed today. I need to take care of me.”

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I’ve been sick on and off for the past two years from the stress of all that I am going through in my private life, and I can only say that I am truly grateful to the people who have kindly helped me through this disaster, and those that have listened to me without judgment. Very few people understand the term “Ride or die.”, but a few do, and I am so blessed to have those people in my life. I’ve learned over the last month or so, and I have certainly learned over the past seven years, who is really with me and who can go screw themselves. That extends to both my personal and professional lives. Loyalty goes a long way with me. Disloyalty shows me your true colors, and once I see that, you’re done.

The song I posted today, The River, was read at my Mom’s funeral. It may not have been her philosophy for herself, but it was definitely a message for her children. It’s a reminder not to give up on yourself or your dreams, and not to let anything, not a single moment, fall by the wayside. Through the darkest of times, I try to keep this in mind, but it’s not always easy to do.

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My mother would have been 68 today, and it pains me that she is not here. Today is my mental health day to mourn her loss, and take stock of where I am going and how I want to handle everything. I’m not having an easy time. I am slaying dragons and demons and sometimes I feel like my swords are dull, and I am too tired for this shit. But then I hear her voice in my head, and the blades are suddenly sharp again and the fierceness of my personality returns in full effect.

When I say that my Mom & I were close, that’s a vast understatement. We were best friends first, mother & daughter somewhere underneath it all. In the final seven years of her life, I discovered how much jealousy our relationship incited in her co-workers. Those with daughters who were not present in their lives were jealous of the fact that my mother, who was partially paralyzed, had a daughter that brought her to work and picked her up nearly every single day. They were jealous that I took care of her and was not just physically present, but emotionally present. They all confided that their own daughters were “way too self-centered and selfish to sacrifice so much”, but that they hoped that if ever they were in a similar situation, their daughters might see the error of their ways. It wasn’t ever said to me with awe, respect, or appreciation. It was said with venom, and I found it disgusting that healthy women who were all so much older than my mother could be SO incredibly jealous of her when she struggled to walk, and yet, never made excuses for herself. She’d push herself to make sure she was at work every single day. I wasn’t raised to be selfish, self-centered, self-important, or self-absorbed. If my mother needed me, then that’s where I was going to be. It was the absolute right place to be, but it was also what our relationship consisted of.

We had the most telepathic relationship in the world. I know no other parent half as connected as my mother and I remain. She was my voice of reason.

My Mom was always extremely honest. She didn’t sugar-coat anything or play games. She raised my brother & I not to accept the easy, to fight for what we believed in and truly wanted. Of the two of us, I’m the one most outside the box. She taught me especially to dream big, for the dream precedes the goal. In turn, I accomplished more by the time I turned 21 than most people do in a lifetime, and yet there’s this wiser part of me that knows it’s not nearly enough, for we are all here on borrowed time and tomorrow is not guaranteed. I’m not afraid to live beyond the word “potential”, and I’m not afraid of other people’s opinions because everyone is entitled to have one, it doesn’t mean their opinion is the correct one.

Death and grief changes you. Do you know what it’s like wondering if each breath a loved one takes will be their last? I watched over my Mom like that when she returned home after suffering from several heart attacks and strokes because her doctor was convinced she would not live another week. I immediately went into nurse/doctor mode, I went without sleep for days on end. Whenever she slept,  I watched over her.

I always wanted my Mom to understand how very important she was to me and how lucky I felt that she was gifted to me as my mother. The last words we spoke to each other were of love. She was tired and said she’d talk to me either later or tomorrow. That night I received a phone call that changed my life immeasurably.

Less than a year later, I found a note from her to me. She’d written it before I was born and while I eliminated some of the more private parts, I share this with you just as I shared it at my parents’ unveiling.

A message to my daughter: ” Be your own person, always be truthful. Be kind, generous, loving, compassionate, and understanding. Be a friend, be thoughtful. Some day you may want these qualities of others. Teach them to your children. Be honest, you’ll always be able to look at yourself with pride. Don’t expect a lot from other people, and you’ll never be disappointed. Enjoy your life, but don’t do anything you’re not going to be able to live with, or are not be prepared to accept as a responsibility. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, hate is a wasted emotion. It’s not necessary to get even. Appreciate what you have, and achieve to the best of your ability. Listen. Sometimes all a person needs is your shoulder. Be gracious, don’t let life drain and break you until you feel empty. Sometimes you have to be selfish. Make your own space, don’t be swallowed by loved ones. Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve made a mistake, we all do. Always know I love you and that you can come to me with anything. Let me be your friend…” Every time I read it, it makes me cry. My Mom had a lot of foresight into what my life would be like.

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At the beginning and end of each day, I still thank God for my Mom. Her loss is felt so deeply within me every single day. Over the years she has sent me so many things to help me heal. I can’t explain what it’s like to fully sense the physical presence of a person, be the presence solid or spiritual ether. Explaining clairsentience to people is a lot like trying to explain air.

People tell me that despite what I am going through, and that which I’ve already endured, I walk in a room and have a glow about me they can’t quite put their finger on. I attribute that to being proud of who I am, for knowing who I am, and being confident in my skin. My Mom helped foster those initial feelings in me, so I am fearless, supremely confident, and despite all of the pain I have endured, I always rise up out of the ashes better than I was before the pyre. I am the astrological sign of transformation and rebirth, and the older I get, the greater respect I have for those moments in my life that help make me better.

I was blessed with an amazing mother. I know not everyone gets to have that kind of relationship with a parent, but I am also a firm believer that everything we experience in life helps prepare us for the moments when we really have to step up. My Mom often said “I never have to worry about you. You will always find your way, you will never lose focus.” I have a lot of bad days, but she’s right, she doesn’t have to worry about me because she instilled so much in me that I know my strengths. Occasionally I have to remind myself what they are, but I don’t ever truly lose focus.

Mom, I want you to know that I know you’re always close by. I know you have saved my life more times than I care to count. I know you see that life is shit’s creek. But I also firmly believe that because you know me so well, you’ll always make sure a life raft gets sent my way. Even if it’s at the last-minute, you’ll never let me down.

I’m my mother’s daughter. I don’t owe anyone anything, but I do owe it to myself to be the very best version of who I am supposed to be, who I am meant to be. My mother only ever wanted me to be myself, but she firmly believed that was a person who would succeed. On a day like today, I need to remind myself that the potential and possibility is there and always will be. I thank you for being my mother, but I thank you more for being the reason I am exactly who I’m supposed to me.

Has time healed anything? No. Do I have hopes that the hole in my heart will eventually fill up a bit? Yes.

I love you, Mom. Thank you…for everything.

“We thought of you today, but that’s nothing new. We thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.

We think of you in silence. We often speak your name. Now all we have are memories, and your picture in a frame.

Your memory is our keepsake with which we’ll never part. God has you in his keeping, we have you in our hearts.” -Unknown

Excerpts of this are copyright © 2009 by Lisa Marino. Everything else, unless otherwise indicated, is copyright © 2013-2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. No portion of this may be reproduced without written consent under the U.S. Copyright Act. Photos & quotes all belong to their creators. 

“Seek the sweet surrender of simplicity. Listen to the sound of faith like a flute playing inside your chest. Go within. Serenity lives always within your reach.” -Ching Qu Lam

Seven Years

Seven years can change everything. 

I walked out of the house the other day and for the first time, I did not have issues about this moment. It’s not about ‘coming to terms’, but maybe it’s about ‘coming to a new place’. Maybe it is a sign that my soul has learned how to handle this from year to year. 

Seven years… It can change how you see the world, how you see yourself, how you see your relationships, and how you see the future.

I have hardened. I have softened. I have strengthened. I have focused on myself, and I have grown. I see how much growth from last year to today.

I have fought battles, and won. I have fought battles that weren’t worth fighting, and walked away unscathed. I have tended wounds, and worked on scars. I have loved and been loved. I have seen beauty, and I have seen the dark underbelly.

I have accomplished things people told me I would never attain on my own. I have risen out of the ashes, as the infinite phoenix of my own destiny. Most importantly, I have stood on my own two feet. No matter where life takes me, I know who I am. I know my worth and value.

In Memory of my father, who knows why these things are all so very important.

…May You Never Be Broken Again.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Portions of this are copyright © 2013 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.