Left Behind

I like the dead who never leave, the ones
still in the room—like Uncle Phil,

who’s bound to smack the back of my head again
once we’re alone, his response to my pierced ear

thirty years ago. Maybe he was drunk,
or his own dead mom was in the room

smacking him in the head. Smack!


Once when my son was young

I drove off without him,
leaving the big boy who had gone to pee.

Nine blocks away, I found myself
talking to an empty car seat.

I was dead, of shame.
It was what death will be,

where no one will see me
u-turning always, across three lanes of traffic.
Long Division
Tupelo Press

borrowed from sherman alexie’s blog–thanks.



here’s one odd advantage to being virtually unknown out here in cyberland:  i can say whatever i want, and probably no one will read it, let alone take their business elsewhere.  i can be as cynical, morbid, and depressing as i am!  i’m invisible.

but increasingly, many individuals and small startups don’t have that luxury.  that’s the downside of everything being so accessible and connected.  it can kill your online reputation if you dare to be transparent or brutally honest about your status.  to protect that last thin wall of  privacy from the random inconvenient  glare, you’re forced to internalize feelings that need to be voiced and heard.

don’t worry, this isn’t going anywhere too personal or awkward.  but since as i said, no one knows or cares who i am, i can just blurt out what i feel to the universe at large, and it will go unnoticed!  the upside of being nobody, i guess.

so, this weekend, while a few of us lone individuals were silently dealing with ongoing demons of depression and isolation, what appeared to be the vast majority of the fb world was loudly whooping it up and having a ‘wonderful time’.  and of course we loners get to sit in the bleachers, way off in the cheap seats, and bear witness to all this uproarious universal partying, while keeping our relentless reality to ourselves.

naturally, that’s what social networking is all about: everyone busily escaping from hard reality for a while, and broadcasting to the world what a great time they’re having with ‘friends’ and family, one event after another, complete with photo or video documentation just to rub it in.  nobody wants to hear that you’re alone and cut off, staring at life-and-death issues, with no answers.  no one wants to be reminded that it could be them.

of course they don’t do it deliberately, to make us feel worse.  it’s just human nature to share good times and bad.  i just wonder if anyone ever stops to think what it feels like to have it rubbed in your face day and night, when you have no choice but to either shut out the world that continues without you, or  watch it vicariously from exile, trying to remember what it’s like.  in the immortal (out-of-context) words of the dowager countess, ‘what’s a weekend’?  in my world, existence just plods on, crushing you under foot, waiting for someone else to die.  i’m not being melodramatic, just stating the facts.

so there it is: i hate it, hate hate hate!  i don’t care if anyone happens to read this, because i can’t accept employment even if it were offered.  the idea of working a regular job right now almost seems utopian, and i’m under no illusions about the types of jobs i’d be eligible for.  just the concept of being around diverse normal people on an ongoing basis, doing something meaningful, and then being able to get away from it once in a while to just do whatever, on my own terms…just to be able to have a cat… to see my family more than once a year…to see friends at all, go out and grab a pizza and beer with them…is it much to ask?  but those are the kind of small but essential things that most people take for granted, while for me they’ve become out of reach.

if i make it through this chapter and live to rejoin the human race, may i never forget or become desensitized to what it’s like to be cut off, sidelined, and dead-ended.  and as we all age, may we PLEASE come up with viable alternatives to dragging our children down to the grave with us.

thank you, great empty void!


just a day in the life

so, we almost made it to the specialist’s office. literally a few feet from the door.  (in this case, appropriately enough, the orthopedist, for the spinal issues.)  mom fell flat on her face in the hallway, fortunately not hitting the brickwork going down).  there she lay, all bloody.  i ran in and alerted the staff, who called 911 and came out to help.  then the EMT volunteers arrived, and the whole crowd of us were milling around mom mopping up blood and readying her on a stretcher to move her to the ambulance.  then i drove over and met them there.

hours passed at the ER, mostly involving her lying there all bruised and bleeding, waiting for someone to attend to her, do a ct scan, and give us some indication of her status.  other people were all in the same boat, waiting for hours to get some attention, so we all ended up kind of hanging out, commiserating.  there were some nice israelis across the hall, on whom i practiced my rusty hebrew, and ended up singing hebrew songs with the patient, who was in some early stage of dementia.  there was an elderly puerto rican couple that i made friends with and tried to keep company.  i guess this is what i do, to make the most of a bad situation.

for some reason, right after new year’s day, there was a major onslaught of patients overwhelming the staff of the ER, at what is usually a very good, quiet hospital.  but everyone was being as accommodating and reasonable as possible, so we just hunkered down and waited.  not much choice.

fortunately, mom didn’t break anything or do more damage to her already deteriorating spine.  she didn’t even need stitches, although she looked like something left in a boxing ring.  pretty gory and colorful.  we were all joking about what the other guy looked like.  even mom had to laugh at that.

finally, hours later, we got to go home, and i had my brother order a pizza.  we actually managed to fit the whole crisis in between lunch and dinnertime!  to be frank, i was a little shaken, although i kept it together the whole time.  it was just a little too reminiscent of the beginning of the end of my father.  i’m sure that crossed mom’s mind, what’s left of it, as well.

still, it’s just another typical day in the life of an elder caregiver.  you start over each day,  droning along, doing relentless routine maintenance, not knowing if it will all end in a catastrophic event, or just replay over and over, on into the indefinite future.

more oldsters are living longer, and more of us are having to babysit our own parents, sometimes into our own old age, having to give up our own lives and families to do so.  do you see why some of us feel a little resentful and hopeless?  i try to stay upbeat, but it’s hard to keep up the façade sometimes.  no one prepared us for this, and no one wants to face the reality, or support you when you’re alone dealing with it in our system.  you just have to find your own way, and hope you make it to the end without breaking down yourself.

or at least make it through another fun day in the vortex of evil.