I Wish

I am counting down the days to the second anniversary of when you died, which, to put it bluntly, feels like shit most of the time. One of the many things I recently had, well, let’s just say used to have and no longer have, was the birthday candle you gave me on the last belated-birthday of mine I spent with you.

You promised me when you saw me I would get a candle to wish on, I think because I hadn’t had a cake or whatever that year, and you were a person who actually did things like that instead of just talking about them. You gave it to me to keep after I blew it out, and I held onto it for the birthdays we were apart.

That is it in the semi-grainy photo above.

I was looking at this picture of the candle I don’t have any more, and trying not to think about the reason I no longer have it and how painful it is to have lost some of the few small things I have left from you, and thinking about you insisting I get a birthday wish, and how we would push each other to find some way to be positive in the midst of pain, and I tried to make a list of things I wish for. And put it aside for a while. In part because what I wrote just seemed cheesy as shit. In part because at the time I wasn’t consciously thinking how soon your anniversary was, and shied away from the reminder.

And now, as I am heading into the week when two years ago you went into the hospital and then died, there is no forgetting. Just the hard reality that when you died, I felt like I lost the last meaningful piece of home and family I had left, and without you, the person who I always had to see me through grief, I am trying to get through your loss alone.

I am going to try to do this, because it seems like a thing you would want me to do, and your perspective tended to be better for me than my own. And I am going to do my best to be honest, since when I give other people advice, I tend to say to start with your ideal, even if your ideal is impossible, since falling short of your ideal is bound to be better than falling short of a compromise. So, you know, if you want to go to Hogwarts, own it. Maybe you will end up going to a Hogwarts-themed hotel. Or a non-magical boarding school.

Okay, no bullshit, no holding back, what do I wish?

First and foremost, I wish you were alive, Kath. I wish I had you to talk to. I wish I still had your voice. I wish I still had your strength to lean on. I wish that you had more happiness in your life. I wish you had known just how much better you deserved. I wish you had never suffered. I wish you really knew – that if you are, as you believed, still somewhere, that you know – I loved you, love you, more than I could ever express, more than my own life. I wish that you are still looking out for me like you promised you would. I wish that you are somewhere, anywhere, so long as that is what you want. I wish that I had gotten to say goodbye. I wish all of your last messages hasn’t been lost. I wish that I hadn’t been too sick to talk for the last weeks you were alive. I wish I had been in a better place in your last months. I wish you had been in a better place in your last months. I wish we’d had time to talk all that shit out. I wish I had finished your Christmas gift early. I wish I hadn’t thought you’d fallen asleep and I had texted “I love you” like we always did at the end of a conversation, instead of worrying I would wake you when you weren’t feeling well. I wish you had called me one last time. I wish I’d had anyone who gave a shit about me with me when I lost you. I wish someone would have had the decency to call to tell me, instead of finding out my sister was dead in a fucking text message. I wish you’d known what an unbelievably special person you were, I wish you had believed it, I wish you had loved yourself more. I wish every asshole who ever hurt you was felled by an epidemic of a virulent, mutated strain of super crabs that only strikes terrible people, with all of the embarassing details published in their obituaries. I wish someone will give me my fucking candle back. I wish I could have saved you somehow.

Besides missing you, and wishing better things for you, and wishing for your miraculous return, and wishing fatal crotch crabs on anyone who did you harm, what else do I wish for? This is the harder part for me, but the part I imagine you encouraging me to think about, so onward into the uncomfortable territory. What else do I really want for myself?

I wish this headache will go away. I wish my sinuses will get better. I wish my hands will fully heal. I wish my hard drive will be returned. I wish my anxiety will disappear. I wish my grief will be comforted. I wish for this to be the day I begin to see the reality rather than the possibility of people who have done harm making sincere and lasting change for the better. I wish for remorse, for sincere apology, for amends. I wish for justice. I wish the people I love who spent years causing me grief will turn it around and become kinder people, and for more benevolent motives than a fear of being struck by mythical doomsday crabs. I wish for my own safe home. I wish for the calm and strength to get through the things I need to do but really, really don’t want to. Hell, I wish for no need for strength because those things become irrelevant without me having to do a damn thing. I wish for the swift and easy end of every problem plaguing my days. I wish for that to happen immediately and continue indefinitely. I wish for my life to become full of people who share your kindness and loyalty and understanding and ability to truly love, who I love and who love me in return. I wish to rediscover my voice and never feel it lost again, in life and on the page. I wish for more time and energy and space and materials to make art. I wish for joy in all my days. I wish for luck, success, safety. I wish for more laughter. I wish to be able to travel again, soon. I wish for my next travels to take me to happier experiences than my last did. I wish, quite frankly, that a fuckload of money will rain on me, because it would make a lot of my life a hell of a lot easier and more pleasant.

I wish for all I wish to come true faster than I can hit “publish” on this thing – and if it doesn’t, for it to come true soon after. I wish to be done with waiting and worrying. I wish to go forward from this moment into as happy a life as I can have without you in it. I will always miss you, I will always love you, and I will always try to make the most of the life I have left because I get to live when you wanted to so badly…but I could use a lot of help, and for a lot of things to change for the better. I wish for this naming of the things I wish for to be the start of that.

And, since you always loved a good communal positivity exercise, I wish that if anyone reads this and is going through their own shit and thinks it might be useful, they will make a list for themselves. And if they are lucky enough to have someone in their life like you, someone loved and trustworthy, they share it with that person, and find some support in realizing as many wishes as they can.

I wish like hell you were here to share this with.

Just a tiny up link

I am not in coherently-wordy place today, but I would like to put something out into the data collection void that provides a possible up moment for any random human who might stumble through here on their wanderings of the web.

This kid just pets dogs he meets and posts pictures with their stories. Pretty nice respite from the less adorable parts of life:

Damn, it’s been a while.

I didn’t realize until now how long I did nothing with this blog.

There were times I published a new piece of art or a comic or wrote, or whatever shit, every day. And until this month, I hadn’t touched it since August of 2016.

December of that year I lost my closest human.

We called each other sisters, but she was my cousin. We were close in age and grew up in different apartments in the same house. We spent some of our childhood in the same grade, in the same school. We didn’t always get along by any means, and we weren’t always in each other’s every day lives, but we always showed up for each other when the big bads happened. As they did, to both of us, way too much, way too often. And as adults we were closer than ever. Although toward the end…yeah, that is a sadness for another time.

It wouldn’t have shocked me that I let this lie fallow after she died, but that I stopped before then…I don’t think I realized how bad things were in my life, how really bad, for how long, until I saw the date of my last post. More often than not, for me, bad times and a lot more time spent on creative output go hand in hand. And I wouldn’t feel times were that good while I was making nothing.

I don’t know if I am really ready to talk more about her right now. I would like to do that one day. I would like to do it well. She was an astonishingly strong and decent human who loved me more than anyone else ever did, who lived a life long in pain and short in years and grand in kindness, and if I could find the words to pay fitting tribute to her, I think it would mean something. To me, to her, to other people, if I could really convey who my first and best friend, who remains the heart of my heart, was.

Not as much as if, as I wished, I could have ripped out my still-beating heart and given it to her to save her life; if resurrection was a possibility, I would be clawing at my sternum instead of typing this. But if wishes were horses, I could probably make a fair bit of cash selling those horses, and I wouldn’t be quite so fucked.

Words are about all I have right now.

You know who she was? She was someone who, knowing, as she always did, that she was probably not going to get to die an old lady, told me in a Facebook comment, of all places, that she would always be here for me, even after she drew her last breath. I still have those words to look at.

That is fucking real love. She believed in an afterlife, and she promised to spend it at least in part watching out for me.

She was smarter and wiser than me in many ways, and I hope like hell she was about that. Not just because having the strongest soul in creation watching over you seems like a pretty good deal. Because I want her to be somewhere, wherever the hell she wants to be, and happy, and feeling for the first time what it is like to exist without sickness or pain.

If I could know that, I would be a-okay with her abandoning her guardian angel post to run as a gazelle or sit on a cloud with all the people she loved who died before her or haunt Leonardo DiCaprio, or whatever her heaven might be, even when my life feels like hell.

I have real love for her, too.

I don’t know yet what to do with the realization that my absence here predated her absence from my life, but I am making note of it, since it seems like a thing that in the longer run might be important to shifting my perspective and improving my own understanding of how I got there, and here…and mostly, because my sister would have wanted me to.

Goodnight, strong Kath, and flights of angels sing thee to wherever and whatever you want to be. Tell them if they give you any shit about it, when I get to where you are, I will fuck them up hard.

I love you, sister.

Always.

Dear Leonard,

You are a cat who lives in Canada. I have never seen you in person. I don’t know your humans. But my friend used to be their roommate, and occasionally she shares photos of your magnificent floof. You have become a photographic source of calm, a digital port in a meatspace storm, and also I think you would be an excellent cat to dress up as for Halloween. (That isn’t just flattery, seriously, one day I hope to have the adequately fluffy faux fur to pull that off. Because it would be cute, and warm, and have pleasant associations. Also because it would be funny to have people say “I love your cat costume,” and reply “I’m not a cat. I’m Leonard,” as if you were famous, and everyone should know that.)

I don’t know how your humans feel about pet-lebrity, but I personally think you could be internet famous. I guess, in a very small way, you are, since you are a cat I don’t know but whose photos I enjoy. Which makes me a very small-but-positive test case for your possible success. And if you don’t want fame, that is understandable, being famous seems to mean a lot of strangers not only talk to you all the time, but feel entitled to touch you, which is weird. You are a cat-lebrity only to me, so far as I know, and I wouldn’t just walk up and try to pet you. That would be rude. I am not saying if fate allows us to cross paths one day, and you seem friendly, I will not happily offer scritches. I am just saying if you are an aloof kitty, I respect that, and you don’t have to be friendly to me for me to enjoy your work.

Well, Leonard, I am going to go ahead and guess you are never going to see this, because we don’t know each other, and I think the odds against you following my blog are pretty high, because you are a cat, and presumably don’t really browse the web. Or like drawings. Or know how to read. But it has been nice taking a pretend pen pal break.

May your excellent photographic floof shed benevolence into my days, fluffy stranger, until my life is so wonderful that I feel as blissed out and at peace as you appear in that photo of you sitting in the sun by the window, and may all of your humans’ windows provide you with sunny or shady places to sit, according to your preference.

Fondly,

Lisa

p.s. I can see myself writing to you again, which I am guessing you will be cool with, you know, because, see above re: you being a cat, and your general unawareness of me and all things associated therewith.

Dear You,

Dear You,

All that stands between the person you are and the person you are capable of becoming is the manner in which you choose to behave – not your fears, not your desires, not your excuses.

Without any of those things changing, you could, at any time, choose to behave differently.

Still wanting to feel in control, you could acknowledge that the only place where you have control is your actions, and change them.

Still feeling afraid of so many things, you could choose to act not merely in deference to your fear, but in defiance of it. It is not impossible; it is courage, the very definition of.

Still wishing that the truth were not what it was, and is, you could choose to speak the truth anyway, even where it is ugly, even where it might be inconvenient to you, even where it might be costly to you. Even where it might reveal the imperfection everyone already knows is there, whether or not they know all the details, because we are all of us imperfect.

Still wanting to avoid “punishment” by pursuing perfection, you could choose instead to own up to where you have done or are doing wrong, and start doing right. Acknowledge fault where it exists, correct the record, reach out, apologize, make amends, get help with making the deeper changes that tend to require time and effort to unfold.

Often, those who love you and have been hurt by you are longing to know that you regret the harm you did, that their pain matters to you. You might help heal the harm. You might even find they are willing to let you back into their lives. That they have only been waiting for you to leave behind the behaviors that caused pain, and to acknowledge that you did, and be in their lives as the better self they knew, and knew you were capable of being in full. Even if the latter is not in the cards, isn’t knowing that you helped to heal a human being you injured a worthy endeavor? Isn’t being a decent human being who acts from more than selfish motives the person you want to be, the person you will be proud to be, and find peace and self-respect and self-love in knowing you are?

You might also find yourself feeling closer to people, truly close, maybe for the first time – because allowing yourself to be imperfect, you are more likely to be able to forgive others their imperfections, instead of treating unpleasant emotions and bad moments as reasons for fear, as reasons to lash out, as reasons to demonize, dehumanize, or to sever all ties. Having demonstrated that you are willing and able to own faults, and in doing so, that you see such things as able to be overcome, as forgivable, you might also find others opening up to you in the same way. You might get to hear some things you, too, have been longing for. And suddenly, you have true intimacy – mutual honesty and empathy and trust and comfort.

Honesty is not merely the only means to get meaningful help (how can someone help when they don’t even know all – or any – of what is wrong?), and the foundation of trust and of intimacy, it is also the minimum prerequisite for truly loving and truly being loved, and feeling loved. If you are always trying to hide parts (or all) of who you are (whether those parts are actions denied or thoughts and emotions never expressed in action), even in the unlikely event that no one sees through or suspects your dissembling, you will always be aware of it, and aware that if anyone feels love for you, what is loved is a facade, not the whole of yourself.

There is no guarantee that if you choose to behave differently, your choices will always have the results you want – or even that they ever will. But if you continue to behave as you do, it is almost certain that you will always feel at least some degree of loneliness and at least to some extent unloved – and likely, wholly so. You will almost certainly feel increasingly fearful, worrying “what if” about the lies you tell, and the truths you hide, being revealed. And you will, sooner or later, have to face something much more painful than fear or loss or failure: regret. The things that go wrong when we try, we can grieve and, having grieved, move on. The things we never allowed ourselves even a chance at having – those are the things that tend to haunt us.

Besides, changing our behaviors is the way we change who we are to everyone else in the world (no one else experiences what we keep inside – to everyone else, our actions are who we are), and eventually, who we are in our own thoughts and feelings – who we are within ourselves. There are some things we cannot purely think our way out of. Anxiety. Loneliness. Dysfunction. Deception. We have to go beyond thought to action, whether it is drawing calming breaths, or trembling out words we are afraid to speak while our hearts race.

This is a statement of the truth that lovable and unlovable don’t exist – no one possesses qualities that cause or repel love. Love is something that arises, generally unbidden, in another person, of its own volition. Let go of worrying about whether you are something that is only imaginary. Instead, be your honest, best self, take responsibility for your actions and the truth of the words you speak, and believe in forgiveness – including in forgiving yourself when you do, as will inevitably happen, make mistakes or behave badly (just make sure you also hold yourself accountable, and act to change, to do better in the future – otherwise, you are not so much forgiving as indulging yourself). Do so, and when someone loves you, you will have the security of the knowledge that their love is true, and not directed at a fictitious person you wear like a mask.

This is a statement of the truth that it is possible to see someone’s worst self and still love the whole person, even if you do not love those particular harmful qualities, even if it may be that person cannot be in your life as they are. And that, all things being possible, remorse is possible, apology, forgiveness, even reconciliation are possible. And should they never come to be, it is alright to live in the space of acknowledging that you love where there is necessary separation, or no reciprocation. Feelings are not all logical, love maybe least of all. You feel what you feel; where it is not healthy, where it brings you harm, where it is the source of an unfulfilled desire, you can accept that the love is true as well as the unpleasant truth. Reality is sometimes unpleasantly complicated. Lying to yourself only adds to the unpleasantness, as it sends you on the downward slide into isolation and emptiness, and you deserve better than that. We all do.

This is a statement of the truth that there is no such thing as “too late” as long as the person or persons in question are still alive. Life is change and possibility. And death comes for us all, sooner or later. Take chances while you have chances to take. Live your life with the acceptance of the inevitability of some pain and failure and disappointment, for the worthy cause of making joy and success and fulfillment possible. Spare yourself regret, and a life of scarcity of the things that make it worth living but tend only to be available to those who accept the risks.

Whatever you believe, I believe, still, in you, in your ability to change, in your ability to do right, in your ability to be strong, and brave, and honest, and to heal. Whether that means anything to you, I can’t know, but maybe there is a chance that it does. Maybe not that it comes from me – maybe just that someone believes in you will make a difference, now, or in the future.

I certainly hope so.

I hope you find whatever it is that will help you cross the distance between where you have been and where you can be, where you are safe and happy and healthy, where you love yourself by treating yourself with love, and love the people you love by treating them with love. Where you do your best to do right by others, and do right by you, too. Where you live a life without regrets, and so enable yourself to build the relationships with meaningful intimacy that will get your through the disappointments and griefs.

I hope you give yourself every chance of living a life full of real happiness. How ever many chances it takes, I hope you never give up on that. I wish that for both of us, actually.

I hope my wish comes true.

 

Love,

Me

 

 

 

Ludicrousness: The Whimsying

The Rhinestone Pony walked into the bar.

Well, he walked through the swinging doors and into the interior of the saloon, he didn’t walk into the bar. That would be clumsy and not cool. The Rhinestone Pony was cool. Super cool.

He was covered in fricking rhinestones, not some shitty bedazzling job, either, his natural coat was made of fricking rhinestones, so yeah, he was pretty awesome. Also sparkly.

His name was Janet.

Yeah, that’s right, fricking Janet, no, Janet isn’t a girlpony’s name, asshole, and all that stuff they say about boyponies with names that ponies just think are girlponies’ names but are really perfectly ponygenderneutral names and totally cool, nay – neigh – perfectly awesome for boyponies, being angry and stuff is just bullshit, who the fuck do you think you are, he will hoof your ass up and down the street, you-

Er, whatever, he is totally cool with it, and not so deeply insecure about it that he is possessed of a wellspring of deep and unpredictable rage based on having a ladypony name and being all sparkly and being constantly subjected to cruel remarks by unimaginative homophobic ponies since before he was knee high to a pony keg.

He is cool.

So cool.

(But maybe don’t make fun of his name, just, you know, just don’t).

All of the ponies sitting in the Plastered Pony Saloon noted his arrival, but without making any overt signs. There was just a subtle shift in the energy of the room. The pony behind the bar gave him a nod, and the duck playing the piano missed a note but then recovered and carried on playing “Camptown Races.”

Janet clip-clopped up to the bar. The barpony was already racking up the Rhinestone Pony’s usual – feedbag of sweet grass, oat chaser.

“What’s the news, J?”

(The Rhinestone Pony was totally not insecure about his name being Janet, it was just because he was so cool that other ponies were naturally inclined to give him cool nicknames and stuff. And never, ever to call him Janet. But only because he was so cool).

“What they print in the papers, Bill.”

The Rhinestone Pony was cool like that.

Bill the barpony let out a little nervous laugh.

“Right you are, J. Well, you let me know if you need a refill.”

The Rhinestone Pony gave a cool, barely discernible nod, and started working on his feedbag.

The duck was coming to the end of “Camptown Races,” and was sweating a little – well, metaphorically sweating, being a duck he didn’t literally sweat – because sometimes it was almost like his wingtips had a mind of their own, and ever since Janet had walked in the door, the duck had had “Rhinestone Cowboy” running in his head, and he was afraid when he finished this song he would unconsciously start playing it unless he though of another song, but it was hard to think of a song when he was already thinking of a song, so he just kept nervously playing the “doodah, doodah” part over and over.

Think, Leroy, think! Like a Rhinestone…no, dammit, no! Um, um, um…cowboy…ahhh, nooo, um oh fuck….

Just before he lost it, he launched into “Some people call me the space cowboy….”

Phew!

The Rhinestone Pony remained at his stall at the bar, and Leroy was able to unclench his bill a little bit.

Janet might have had some trouble in the past with dudeponies not respecting his shiny not-ladypony-named awesomeness (not that those dudes had had much not to say once they caught a rhinestone-encrusted hoof to the temple, not that Janet had anger issues, or anything, he was cool, and any hoofings that happened were hoofed in a totally cool, non-disturbed fashion). However, Janet had never had any trouble with the ladyponies. Think of it as the Liberace Effect – just don’t call it that out loud, Janet might not take too kindly to it, not that he has anger issues, mind you.

Those ladyponies loved that tough face and shiny exterior and that heart that they imagined must be sweet, with such a pretty exterior and such a sweet name.

A few ladyponies standing around a table giggled and shivered their flanks coquettishly, but the waitresspony made no show she had noticed the Rhinestone Pony’s arrival. She had been around the stables a few times, and she knew all about lady-named ponies with pretty exteriors, and how more often than not their insides were not nearly so sparkly. Give me a plain old gray pony with a nice boring name like “Clover” or “Mr. Pony” any day, she thought as she refilled the water troughs.

The Plastered Pony was the only bar in Ponyville where the Rhinestone Pony ever went for a feedbag. The Plastered Pony was the only bar in Ponyville where the Rhinestone Pony was allowed to go for a feedbag. He had been ponybanned for ponylife from every other ponyfreshment ponystablishment within a hundred miles of the town limits. He wasn’t even allowed in the Pitiful Pony anymore, and that place cut its oats with sawdust and served any ponytrash that trotted in out of the ponygutter.

The Rhinestone Pony knew he was merely misunderstood…and he contended that many of those ponypatrons had hoofed themselves in the head. (In point of fact, he seemed to be perplexed by their strange self-destructive behavior, as he was often heard to ask those unfortunate ponies “Why do you keep hoofing yourself? Why do you keep hoofing yourself?”as he stood over them, their hoof gripped in his hooves, trying, one would assume, to make the poor masochistic ponies stop hoofing themselves repeatedly about the face and temples, one would further assume in a fit of remorse for having been so insensitive to have said something like “Nice sparkles, Jan.”)

The Rhinestone Pony polished off his sweet grass, slammed his oats, and knocked a hoof on the bar to signal for another round. Bill the barpony filled his ordered quickly and quietly, gave Janet a quick, respectful nod, and returned to prepping parsely garnish in amounts that really exceeded any likely demand, but always best to appear busy lest the Rhinestone Pony try to engage your idle ponyself in conversation and take offense at some benign remark. Bill had been tending the bar at ponydives for a lot of years, and he knew what was what. He preferred not to be overwhelmed by a sudden desire to hoof himself repeatedly about the face and temples, thanks very much. Keep that parsley coming.

The Rhinestone Pony, all sparkly and silent, and let’s not forget, cool, kept his attention on his feedbag.

The other ponypatrons had relaxed just enough to resume some quiet conversation, though of course no one mentioned rhinestones or ladypony names or pony names of any kind, for that matter.

Leroy, in another moment of Rhinestone Panic, had gone back to playing “Camptown Races.” He just couldn’t think of another song, though he knew hundreds. He had played the space cowboy thing at jam-band lengths before he was at last able to recall the song he had been playing immediately before. He had the paranoid fear that somehow the Rhinestone Pony would know Leroy’s musical falterings were about the Rhinestone Pony, and somehow Leroy would find himself developing hooves with which he might be made – er, mysteriously choose – to hoof himself repeatedly about the bill and temples.

Oh, man, oh, seriously, I have got to think of another fucking song, what if he hates this song, what if he demands that I play something new and I just can’t think of another song, come on, um, Duck, Duck, Goose, no, fuck, that’s a game, um, Ducks Don’t Have Hooves, no, shit, c’mon, Leroy, don’t crack, oh, man, I should’ve listened to my wife when she told me not to take this gig. “It’s a pony saloon, what could go wrong? Just a bunch of nice ponies called Sparkles and Rainbow and Lady Sunshine, standing around eating clover and talking about their last gig working some six-year-old girl’s birthday party. I will play some happy songs on the piano, make the occasional quack joke, easy money.” Genius, Leroy. Now I can’t play any song in my repertoire that even comes close to mentioning sparkles…and forget about ‘A Boy Named Sue.’ Hey! That’s a different song! That I can’t play. Leroy, keep it together….birthday parties! They sing songs at those!

Leroy launched into “Happy Birthday.” Not a long song, but hell, it bought him a little time to think of another song without potentially driving any ponies into a hoofing rage with an infinite loop of doodah, doodah.

The Rhinestone Pony, glittering under the bar lights, finished his second feedbag, knocked back the last of his oats, nodded to Bill the barpony and his parsley, and clip-clopped back through the swinging doors of the saloon and into the glittering sunlight, where he sparkled like a suncatcher as he galloped off into the distance.

The patrons of the Plastered Pony heaved a collective sigh of relief that no one had come down with another case of hoof-yourself-itis in the Rhinestone Pony’s presence.

The duck played on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Lisa Hurley
lisamariehurley.com