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.

We Only Have Ourselves

No, this won’t be a cheerful post. If you ever expect that level of dishonesty from me, please unsubscribe/unfollow now. I’m many things, but direct and honest are the top too words used to describe me as a person. Obviously, I share the good things, too, but I temper most of my enthusiasm. I am not about ego.

Today took its toll on me because I was remembering this precise Saturday, many years ago. I had weird dreams last night into the morning, and then the realization jolted me harshly. Despite taking medication for Complex PTSD, I can see that this time, on the lowest possible dose, it’s failing. Instead of keeping pain and nightmares away, it worked against me. 😦 As the day progressed, I ended up doubled over with what I believe are kidney cramps. I have to give it few days to see if that’s actually what it is. If it passes, or not. Having had kidney stones, I can tell you the pain is excruciating. Right now, I can’t do a whole lot. I can barely go up and down a flight of stairs, but I digress.

I talk about life and loss because it’s part of who I am. I am formed out of loss and built up by life, love, and loss. It’s a vicious, yet honest circle of life.

On the back of my neck, beginning just underneath my hairline, is a tattoo. I call it “The backbone of my life.” because there are others that stretch down the length of my spine (and more to be added), but the first symbol means Life, Death, and Rebirth. It also means Maiden, Mother, and Crone; the three phases of woman. The third definition means Past, Present, and Future. Love, Loyalty, and Friendship is another meaning of this particular symbol. It looks like stained glass. It is done entirely in shades of blue. I get constant compliments on it, but the truth is, I forget it’s there. I forget, until I take a deeper look at my life and how it always cycles back to Life, Death, and Rebirth.

Essentially, it cycles back to all of the key meanings I have shared here. When a friend mentioned how much she likes this symbol and wanted to get it done in the exact same spot, I cringed. She didn’t fully grasp what it means; it was just a symbol she liked, as if looking at flash art in a tattoo studio. She ended up with a massive cross instead, and I breathed a sigh of relief because of how I hold the values of my chosen symbol deeply. It’s not something I did without thought. I actually waited a long time before I decided on something so permanent. I sort of regret the second symbol, but that’s a story for another day.

We all have private pain which is hard to discuss. Some more than others. For me, the memories are so fresh, as if this happened yesterday, but it’s been a long time, and it still impacts my life deeply. As a result, it conjured up dreams about multiple family members. Generally, I don’t dream much about the living, so that was the weirdest part. The dead always visit me. It’s never a question of will they, but when will they.

The past few years have really reminded me how solo I am as a person. This has nothing to do with my relationships, but with how I face life each day. I face it with the knowledge that no matter what, I am an independent individual. I face it without asking for help because people throw what they do in my face. I face it stressed because I am constantly criticized after being praised, It goes back and forth. Nothing I do is ever good enough, so I’ve reached a point where I focus solely on my needs. I’m not a moron and I don’t need to be reminded of anything, especially when I am in pain.

Certain types of people want things they do not give. Respect. Courtesy. Decency. RESPECT. They demand it instead of earning it. Clearly, they don’t know what will work with me, but disrespect and demands will never get you anywhere. I’ll do what needs to be done when I can, but if you place pressure on me, I will snap. Now, more than ever, I am aware that snapping is the next step because I’ve disengaged so many times, and people assume I’m ignoring them. Please don’t mistake my silence for anything beyond silence. I’ve yet to plan a murder out loud. 😉 But man, do some people PUSH until you feel like maybe an orange jumpsuit wouldn’t be so bad. 😦 And please, don’t ever deign to tell me how to speak. I will say what I need to say when I’m ready, not less than half a second after you tell me what you wanted to hear. Genuine thanks comes from the heart and will come once I’ve collected my thoughts; they will not come at all if you try to coach the words. That leads you to, “Go fuck yourself.”, instead of “Thank you.” Obviously, this is a case-by-case basis, but I’m damn fucking tired of being spoken down to.

Tonight, I go to sleep without words. Wash my face, brush my teeth, say my prayers, and that’s the end of the day. Tomorrow, I will relive more of the pain and suffering, and hopefully get a few things off of my list. After all, in the grand scheme of things, we only have ourselves. Obviously, you can believe as you wish. That’s your prerogative.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Tracking The Time

The loss of my mother haunts me. How could it not?

I know not everyone has a deep bond with either parent, and others have different scenarios of their family dynamic, which I understand, but my mother was my best friend. I was never embarrassed of her or ashamed of her. I took care of her. I helped her with anything and everything. I paid her bills and kept everything up-to-date. I cooked. I took her to doctor’s appointments. I dropped her off at work, walking her to her desk, and repeated the process at the end of each day. Sometimes, my brother was the one doing that, when he was available. We often dreaded it, but we did not complain. Two failed back surgeries left my mother partially paralyzed, so the extra assistance was necessary. Her biggest fear was falling and being wheelchair bound. 😦

I always question what I could have done to save her. I would have given her the heart out of my own chest. Ultimately, her life was in her own hands and she refused invasive medical treatment. Medical treatment my brother would later receive, and still receives. She gave up and her heart did, too. I don’t think she realized how much heartache and pain she would leave behind. Nor do I think she cared. She was too far gone to care anymore. While I understand that, it’s the polar opposite of how she expected me to be. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that she always wanted me to fight, but wouldn’t do it for herself.

So today, on what would have been her 74th birthday, I tried to do normal things. I’m wearing one of her favorite colors of nail polish in homage to her. I do it every year; I try to find a shade of purple that honors her life and what she left behind. But ultimately, as the day comes to a mental close, I am deeply saddened and feel the loss in every part of my life and heart.

If your parents are still alive and you have a good relationship with them, please realize how blessed you are. Some of us aren’t so lucky.

May you seek sweet Serenity, madre. May time heal, even though right now, it still tracks.

The Eerie Stillness of Bad News

Today, #Covid19 claimed the life of a family friend. His crime? Being told it was safe to have surgery, so that he could get back to being the healthy, active person he was. 😡 They are NOT preserving a life if Covid is part of the diagnosis, and it’s important for people to know this. They’re too afraid to try and help them in any real way, except keeping them comfortable.

PLEASE, STAY HOME. WEAR A MASK if you must go out or interact with people for work. This person died less than a week after testing positive, and he died alone. I tested negative at the beginning of the month (And I’m STILL sick, but not severely.). This easily could have been me, someone who is immuno-compromised, or anyone I know who has been forced to proactively handle their health during all of this insanity that no one could possibly be prepared for.

My primary care physician keeps telling me it’s safe to go into the office. 🙄 Two other doctors of mine were much more honest, telling me to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go in. “It ISN’T safe and they CANNOT claim to provide a virus-free environment. He should NOT be saying this at all.” No, he shouldn’t, and I will be canceling my March appointment with him. I will be canceling other appointments for the beginning of next year, too. I don’t want to risk exposure, and I really can’t afford to be put at risk. None of us can.
I’m not saying you should be scared to live your life, but please, be mindful. Use common sense. Take precautions. Be mindful of the situations you’re putting yourself in.

Yes, we’re all going insane with restrictions and closings, etc. But you have to be alive in order to go insane even a little.

Another family is shattered tonight. 💔 Do your homework. If you can get vaccinated, weigh your options (It’s too early to be good for EVERY person. There ARE risks involved.). If you feel safest at home, I will NEVER judge you for it. But please, think about receiving a phone call at 2:30 a.m. and then wondering how you’ll cope with the aftermath. And if you don’t think about your family and friends, think about how you’d feel if the person was your mother, daughter, wife, father, son, husband, sibling, etc., and they died because you exposed them, unknowingly, to this crap. Yeah, it’s not a good thought or feeling.

Rest In Peace, Robert. You didn’t deserve this. 😢

New Moon In Scorpio 11.15.2020

Today is also my Uncle’s 68th birthday. He’s been gone nine years and I nearly broke down this morning when I looked at old photos saved on my laptop and phone. I miss you so much, Zio. Thank you for all the good lessons you taught me and the girls. Thank you for supporting my knowledge, my education, and my fierce spirit. I might not have been your daughter, but I always felt like I was, and I was always treated as though I was. So many special moments and memories, which I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Ti Amo. 💚

When The Raw Pain Is So Unbearable

“When the raw pain is so unbearable and unbelievable, you may wonder if you can go on. But, you can, and will. And life can be good again—when you work at it. It’s a conscious choice to decide to move through grief, mourn the loss of the person you love, and heal.” ―Chelsea Hanson

Late yesterday afternoon, the news of a death in my family hit me in an unexpected way. One, it is close to home and heart. I’ve lived it and I’ve lived it predominantly alone. Two, it re-traumatized me in a way I never could have anticipated. I couldn’t even speak about it. 

People who have suffered through a lot of awful things eventually reach a level of mental compartmentalization only those who’ve experienced similar situations will understand. We will tell you what we’ve been through and our tone of voice will come across as cool and neutral, or cool and detached. Or completely empty. We’ve legitimately gone through so much that we’ve lost the emotional context tone of voice which newly traumatized people have. We can tell you the worst things you’ll ever hear, and we will often not even blink. We’ve told the story of our pain so many times, we no longer react to it. It’s the reaction of a survivor. Believe me when I say this doesn’t mean we are leaving out details or being dishonest. However, it does mean we’ve continually walked through hell.  

I try to keep the boundaries between my private life and my public life as a writer extremely separate. Sometimes I do discuss situations I am dealing with or have dealt with, but I word things carefully. Today, I can only say a family member passed away. Being excluded from the virtual funeral is something I am trying not to take personally, but I find it incredibly disrespectful. Virtual Shiva is taking place, except for Friday and Saturday due to the Sabbath, but I have made the conscious decision not to participate. I have my reasons.

I’m pretty fed up. I have to keep in mind that when I was the one planning two funerals, I called people personally, except for three cousins who my Aunt is closer to, and she offered to make those calls for me. I didn’t text anyone or publicize their deaths via social media. The only people who knew what was going on were those I had called or e-mailed (due to their location) directly. I remember e-mailing my best friends in real-time, as I was going through all of it. I kept in touch constantly, even when they were both ill and there was a lot of uncertainty. I was careful not to exclude family friends, coworkers, etc. The few people I didn’t reach out to were people I felt were not deserving of being a part of my pain.

I planned everything from transportation of the body to selecting the coffins. I contacted the cemetery. I spoke with the Rabbi. I wrote two eulogies. I spoke at each service. These are not easy things to go through.

This year, people reached out to me on Mother’s Day, but no one remembered the actual date of death, so I suffered privately. I felt incredibly overwhelmed with sadness and zero emotional support. Not a word was spoken to me on Father’s Day. My father’s birthday is approaching, and it makes me sick to think about it.

I can’t help but feel excluded by my extended family, but I AM in control of how I respond to all of them moving forward. I’m no longer making myself available to anyone. Right now, that’s what I need to do to help myself heal. I highly doubt they’ll notice. I’m okay with this. I will be okay. 

My Life Is Not an ‘Acceptable Loss’ During the COVID-19 Pandemic

My Life Is Not an ‘Acceptable Loss’ During the COVID-19 Pandemic

I, too, have noticed what is most important to people. The shallow depths are obnoxious as hell. People are behaving as if this is suddenly over and life can go back to “normal”. Life is doing no such thing, and the sooner you come to terms with it, the better off you’ll be. The fact that people are now traveling to different countries by choice and going on vacations is a bit much for me. They aren’t wearing masks, gloves, or doing anything to protect themselves or those around them. And they’re taking great lengths to justify traveling with a newborn, and traveling in general. All of that to be at the beach? Really?! Perhaps I take it for granted because I am so close to the beach, but I’m not spending my time at a packed beach, park, or anywhere that involves crowds. It can wait, and it will.

I am at risk every time I pick up groceries in between Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh deliveries, which, let’s face it, is a privilege. Not everyone can have the bulk of their groceries delivered. It took me several months to even get a delivery slot. Once you have it, you’re good for future slots. I only have one complaint about my order, but that’s for Whole Foods to deal with. I am still going to places like Walgreens, PetSmart, and Trader Joe’s because they’re close by, and I still have medication and other things that I normally replace every few weeks. Trader Joe’s is doing the most to keep things clean, like sanitizing the shopping carts in front of you, and putting distancing labels on the floor so you can get what you need, get on line, and get out quickly. They’re still limiting how many shoppers are in the store at a time, so I don’t feel overwhelmed in there. PetSmart is predominantly empty. My cats still need supplies each month, so I do my best to make sure they have what they need.

I am usually a regular at my nail salon; rarely going as long as three weeks in between manicures. I worried they might not survive being closed for several months, yet I have not been back since they’ve reopened. I may not return until September or October. I’ve reached a new level of , “Who cares?” regarding my own nails because many regulars are over 70 and require people to socially distance. I would feel like an absolute  hypocrite if I went running in for an appointment immediately, as so many people did. I say this out of concern. One person I am semi-familiar with went running to her salon for a mani/pedi and two days later she had a staph infection. I trust my salon and I’m friendly with the owners. You will never see me post a photo of an infection asking people online what I should do about it. I would NEVER go back to a place that made me ill in any way,  and I would definitely report it to the owners, and to the board of health. Where there’s one staph infection, there are others. I will pass, for now. I can use foot masks temporarily until I feel safe enough to return to a “new normal”. It’s important to find out what they’ve done to make their customers, and themselves, safer. I know when I do call for an appointment, they will have answers for me. Yes, going in might make me feel better after the past four months of pure isolation, depression, pain, and misery, but at what cost?

My hair salon went out of business. I knew this was a strong possibility, especially when my colorist left a few years ago (Her new place of business was looted during a protest in Boston, so the owners don’t know if they can rebuild or not. This woman has been amazing to me from day one. She has guided me with maintaining a difficult hair color, got it sponsored for two straight years which saved me a fortune, responds to questions I have each month regarding what to use, especially when I am unsure about making it darker, richer, extremely vibrant, or lighter. We came to an agreement about lightening it up a bit for summer, in case I want to go back to my natural color in a few months.). I want to stay with the same stylist, but I have no idea where she will end up working or if she even feels safe to return to any environment involving hair right now. In the meantime, I found two alternative options and I am definitely going to get a significant trim as soon as possible, but I am doing so after reading all of the precautions put in place in order to protect their customers and employees. If your employees don’t feel safe, then the customer will pick up on that very quickly. Knowing that Ulta took care of their employees the entire time the stores were closed makes me much more willing to give them my business. The places that didn’t take care of their employees, well, it shows.

My point in all of this is that I am okay to run and get a much-needed hair cut, but I am not going to put myself or others at risk for something I view as frivolous. I wear a mask, I wear gloves, I carry hand sanitizer with me (I have actually done this for ten years. Mini sanitizers from Bath & Body Works are especially perfect for your purse. They are about to begin their semi-annual clearance sale, so if you don’t have a little one for even the shortest outings, theirs are fantastic and you can shop the sale online. Dr. Bronner’s has sprayable hand sanitizers, which are an excellent backup or first choice. I’m currently carrying one of theirs, along with a Warm Vanilla Sugar from B&BW. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are carrying Dr. B’s, and their website has them for direct purchase, as well.), etc. I wipe down everything that comes inside with Clorox wipes. I’m sure I look nuts when I’m doing this, but these are necessary precautions. Every little bit helps.

If you’re refusing to wear a mask, think about the possibility of you infecting those you love the most in life. Plenty of people are asymptomatic and don’t know they’re walking carriers, so every time they walk past someone who is already at risk, they can be making that person sick or leading them to their death. We aren’t being punished by being asked to wear a damn mask while in stores.

I am choosing to be smart this summer. I don’t have to go anywhere weekly, but I can get my hair cut and it’ll remain in good shape until Fall. In this, I feel like it’s all right, but if I had to go monthly, I don’t know if I’d take that risk seeing as how I will be going to someplace unfamiliar. And because there will only be one or two people there at the same time, it’s okay. There’s some distancing involved and I’ll still be wearing a mask. I’ll still be washing my hands and the stylist will be following specific protocols, as well. 

At my next essential doctor’s appointment in August, I very well might be the only person in the waiting room, and that is perfectly fine. It went well in May, and I know it will be fine moving forward. I’m not ready for crowds and I don’t think any doctor’s office is prepared for this, either.

I agree with nearly everything this writer mentioned. I have gone as far as refusing to discuss the virus with people because they’re obsessed and I am not. I would rather read a book, do some research, or write, than listen to people’s fears. Only one person took offense to my saying that I could not be a Covid 19 dumping ground. They took this personally and turned it into a fight. Via text. Did you just roll your eyes? Trust me, it gets worse and I will be discussing it, but I feel like many of us have had enough of the constant influx. I do NOT want to sit in front of any news coverage via television, online, or the radio. There’s a limit and I have met mine. There’s no point complaining about it because everyone is going to do whatever the hell they want. I want to continue to make the smartest choices possible. 

I’ll be here; keeping my distance and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy within my own day-to-day activities. I encourage everyone to do whatever makes them feel safe. We’ve never lived through something like this, so there’s an obvious learning curve, but it’s also a necessary one.

Wishing you all a healthy, safe 4th of July weekend.