The Sensitive Storm

Beneath the surface, a storm brews.

Month: July, 2013

Life As Art

I thought I’d share some images from my iPhone that documents what has happened so far since I lost my biological father on July 4th. Yes, things have been unsettling and sad but as I mentioned in a previous post I’ve found ways to emote and I’ve seen some happy things along the way. Shared tender moments that solidify meaning and purpose. These are normal day to day things that reassure me that I’ll be okay.

July 5th, I was invited to Stephanie’s house for dinner but I didn’t really want to go (only because I felt blank) but I went. I’m glad I did. Steph’s parents recently returned from Italy and we had a beautiful dinner that was inspired by their trip. And of course, cake…and wine. Below is a photo of the only thing I could really muster up for a birthday gift the day after I found out my father died.

 Tree

Funny how I subconsciously conjured up “well, anyone that’s alive” on my message to her.

Yum

Before I left for North Carolina I met with my good friend Abhishek. He suggested, well, demanded rather, I come over and join him for dinner and a photo walk. We did both. At the end of the evening he took this photo of me.

Hands

The day after that I was still awaiting word from my NC family regarding details of funeral arrangements. So, I drove to my favorite beach, took photos and meditated.

stpetesunset

And so the next day began my journey. From home to Winston Salem.

Map

I have to mention that without my amazing friend and companion, Ron, I wouldn’t have been able to make this journey so simply and without complication. He gave me a shoulder to cry on and someone to rely on.

I loved the notepads I found on the nightstands and for some reason I held onto this rock the entire trip.

Rock Rock

My sister, Courtney, gave me the rose after the service. After I got back to Jacksonville I walked out onto the pier under the full moon and peeled each petal off, offering them to the ocean. The Atlantic Ocean. It’s the one my father drown in.

Rose

The evening after the funeral I was drained and needed some fresh air. Ron and I found a Thai restaurant downtown Winston-Salem. It was the first time I’d ever eaten at a Thai place and it was wonderful. Forgive the blurry photo.

Thai

We stopped in Savannah on the way back and ate near the river.

Shadow

This is a photo of my collection of clippings from my trip. The rose from my sister is included.

flowers

Since we got back from the trip I’ve found a lot of quiet things to do. Drawing being one of them. I also realized how easy it is to see God in just one single feather.

feather

I drew this and text it to a friend.

imissu

I drew this one day while I was angry.

one

wine

And I drew this for my sister, Courtney. Her birthday is at the end of this month.

owl1

Notice I changed the shape of it’s head.

owl2

I like how it turned out. When I started, I thought I’d give it a Mardi Gras theme. That didn’t work out but I’m pleased that the background somehow looks like a forest of trees.

owl3

The last thing I did was trace these two puzzle pieces on my art pad while trying to escape the group while attending a small gathering at my friend Jordan’s house. *waves to Jordan*  She invited Ron and I over this part Sunday while her husband entertained some of his friends that belong to the Wounded Warrior Project. If you don’t know what that is you should Google it. It has to do with combat wounded veterans and her husband is one. Anyway, the puzzle pieces are from her 3 year olds Disney puzzle.

After I drew mine I wanted someone else to draw in the other one so I convinced Ron to join me in my seclusion. I put the final touches on it.

awe

A little closer.

awe

As I was finishing the above puzzle pieces Madison came over and wanted to help. So, I drew two more puzzle pieces and let her draw one and I drew the other. Here’s how that one turned out.

butterfly

And those are some memories that are contained in my iPhone.

Things I’ve Learned In The Past Two Weeks

1. My mother is passive aggressive.

(http://voices.yahoo.com/10-symptoms-passive-aggressive-parent-7249092.html)

#1 is probably the ABSOLUTE most annoying one ever ever EVER. Here’s a real life example:

Me: Mom, I’m going to a friend’s tonight for dinner.

Me: (next night) Hey, I’m off to my friends house for dinner.

Mom: What? Where are you going?

Me: My friends house for dinner. I told you yesterday.

Mom: (shocked, sad, hurt look on her face, turning her head away and speaking softly) Oh. Okay. Have fun.

And no, she didn’t forget. She does it all the time. Like the time she made a big pot of “vegetarian soup” (because I’m a vegetarian) and when I go to get some soup I find there is hamburger in it. “You can pick it out” she says. Because there is hamburger in vegetarian soup…and of COURSE there was an audience at the house at the time and I look like the bad guy because I didn’t want to eat the soup my dear mother slaved over and made just for me.

Or maybe the most recent when I was visiting home 3 weeks ago and on the first night I started boiling some water for rice. I was reading at the dinner table waiting for it to cook and my mother was on the phone chatting away. I hear “Carm, what are you burning” but, before I can say anything she gets out of her chair (loudly) and says on the phone “hold on, my daughter is burning something on the stove”, walks in and turns on the vent above the stove. She says in the phone “welcome home, Carmen” and goes back into the living room.

I’d like to reiterate. It was rice I was making. Rice. And it wasn’t burning. Actually, it hadn’t even started boiling yet.

I am so completely bothersome aren’t I?

A few minutes later she gets off the phone and walks onto the back porch to switch the laundry. When she comes back in she walks over to me, gives me a hug and says “I’m so glad you’re here”.

In case you’re thinking maybe she felt bad because of what she said. She didn’t. This stuff has happened all of my life. It’s called a double – bind. You should Google it.

2. I am depressed.

You know what I discovered though? It doesn’t matter. Cries for help fall upon deaf ears. People just don’t want to be bothered.

Also, I didn’t really know how much noise I had created for myself until I wanted to get rid of it.

So, I’ve disconnected from the big world. I’ve focused on getting rid of noise. That mainly involves the things I’ve created around myself that keep me distracted and busy. I like to go into my grief and poke around to see what’s there. I’ve learned it’s best that way, at least for me. I’ve removed people. (some people already removed themselves) I’ve removed loud sounds and aggressive music with useless lyrics. I don’t even have much desire to see movies in theaters because I think there’s something more interesting I could be doing.

I’ve been contemplating, thinking, drawing, reading, looking for sharks teeth at the beach, taking photos, and searching for jobs. I have a phone interview this evening with someone in a different state. Things are much quieter now. I can hear myself think and I don’t get tired from socializing because I just don’t do it. When Lowell died it felt like I had on blinders or those things they put on horses so they can’t see who is beside them. I was focused on work and that was about it. My down time was filled up with Desperate Housewives and well, I don’t remember. I’m forcing myself to be a little more productive in my quiet time and grief rather than drown myself in noise and emptiness just to keep myself distracted. It’s not easy to be alone with just the thoughts in my head. Dangerous territory for some but I think if I can keep positive at least half the time I’ll be able to grow exponentially from this hellish experience of loss.

Empty

3. Dreams of my step-father, Lowell, are back again after the death of my biological father, Randy. The first night I was told Randy drown in the ocean I dreamt he told me he hasn’t left yet because he wanted to check on someone. Actually, it was more like a whisper than a dream.

It’s a confusing thing to have 3 “dad’s”, like me. My mother married my bio dad, Randy, after she became pregnant at age 18. The daughter of a preacher’s kid, she was embarrassed to be a single parent so she moved to North Carolina until one year later she left my dad and moved back in with her parents. She would later tell me that Randy “just wasn’t ready to be a father”. I will really never know because I can’t ask him what it was like for him. I do know that about 12 years ago when I started seeing my dad again my grandfather told me to apologize to Randy for him. He went on to tell me that my father would come by the house to see me and they wouldn’t let him in. My grandmother never had anything nice to say about him.

When my mother married for a second time it was to Milton. He is my half-sister’s father. I grew up calling him “daddy” since he was around from ages 2-6. He’s still alive but we don’t talk much. While growing up I used to go visit him along with my sister, every other weekend. One time my sister said “I don’t even know why you go, he’s not your dad” so I stopped going. Eventually my sister stopped going as well. I really don’t get along with my sister…but that’s for another time.

Finally we come to the father of whom most of my blog is written. The one who died of cancer on April Fools Day in 2010. Lowell. He’s been my parental figure since I was around 7.  I grew up with him taking us on big camping trips. Him teaching me how to grow things and take pictures. We hiked together and rode our bicycles some pretty good distances. He was a firefighter. He had such a great sense of humor that sometimes he’d call me and say “hello, daughter figure” and I’d respond (in robot voice) “hello, father figure” and then we’d laugh.

Anyway. Glad I could clear that all up for you.

My point is, it’s confusing to talk about the death of my father when I just had a death of a father. It’s also awkward to explain. And I’m nervous about the dreams because they remind me of when Lowell first died and I had the same dream 7 times in a row. He was cremated but I kept dreaming he wanted to be buried. In my last dream we learned the cancer had come back. I think I have the power to keep the nightmare from starting all over again just by being aware of it. My dreams of him have finally gotten to a peaceful place. It’s taken 2 1/2 years for that to happen. I refuse to do it all over again.

 

4. People are really clueless

And when I can, I try to remember what Jesus said. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:24

Sharks Tooth

The Funeral

The young man in the glasses is my brother, David. He’s helping carry our father to his final resting place.

Loss in Motion

Loss in Motion

Here We Go Again

My biological father died on July 4th. He lives in North Carolina and was on vacation with his family for the week. The ocean swallowed him up and spit him back out. He’s the first one they talk about, Randy.

Here’s a link:

Link to News

It’s horrible. I haven’t even begun to process what’s happening. Many of you that follow my blog know I moved to South Carolina in January. At that point I hadn’t seen my father for over 10 years. Once I decided I was leaving and moving back to Florida my dad said we need to meet. He said “there’s no way I’m going to let you be this close and not see you”. So we saw one another. We met halfway. It was sweet and we picked up right where we left off. Also, we were both wearing rubber bands on our wrists. I asked him why he did it he said “I just like it”. You remember from a previous blog why I do it. I took a photo of our wrists because I couldn’t believe we had both intentionally put rubber bands on our wrists. I took his black one. I am wearing it now as I type.

Hands

Fathergrainy photo taken with my iPhone

My biological father and I have become much closer over the past two years. After the death of the man who raised me (and whom I also call dad) I contacted my biological father and asked if we could be friends again, if we could move on. His answer? “Hell yes?” He was so happy. I would later learn from my sister that ever since I cut my father off from speaking to me several years back, he started drinking more and was depressed. Also, it was my fault we hadn’t been speaking. I was still hurt and held a lot of resentment from the past. I told him when I wanted to talk to him I’d call him.

I never knew I had that much of an impact on his life. I guess I know now. Over the past two years we learned more about one another and truly became friends. Even though moving to SC wasn’t one of my best decisions, I know that without having moved I probably wouldn’t have seen my dad for an even longer time. Maybe not even before his death.

But…

this post isn’t about that. It’s about people and how they respond to things like this. I’m still in shock so if I sound bold here, I’m really not. My last few days have been spent staring off into space, crying, and moving my body from one chair to another. I’ve been alone. My mom worked the past two days and even though I have friends, nobody has come to see me.

I suppose I’m being a bit overdramatic here I mean, what do I expect? I JUST had a dad die, didn’t I? What should I expect from anyone? People have their own lives to deal with. But, I haven’t eaten much. Aren’t people supposed to cook for the bereaved? I feel dizzy (though that may be remnants of the Klonipin my mother gave me last night to help me sleep). I’m numb. I randomly burst into tears and I’m hearing from people via text message. Some text me the first or second day it happened and I suppose they think that’s good enough. But, it isn’t good enough.

I think what I am noticing is the selfishness in others and I’m asking myself how selfish I am. I recently met a friend who said he was recently so depressed he stopped paying all of his bills, barely went to work (and was almost fired) and he gave away his beloved dog because he knew he couldn’t take care of it. He said “nobody cared”. Nobody cared. Nobody cares. That seems to be a theme when it comes to others suffering.

The night I found my father drown in the ocean I sat outside on the swing. It was like the fireworks were mocking my sorrow, as if nobody cared my world was just shattered. Nobody cared about my sister who swam to try and save my father, to no avail. How tragic. Not to mention his wife and son. His wife who he’s been married to for over 25 years.  His son who was supposed to drive to the beach with them the day before but arrived just in time to see his father’s lifeless body be dragged onto the shore.

We are faced with challenges. It’s a balancing act, I know. I’ve been struggling for over 2 years since the death of the man I knew as “dad” all of my life. After I was able to refocus after his death I thought-I should be grateful, it’s not the same but I still have a father. I struggled with guilt regarding not only that but also how close do I get with Randy? How do I talk about my dead “dad” when HE was my “dad”?

This year I forgot it was Father’s Day. I suppose my mind blocked it out for me. It would’ve been nice living in Oblivion but when I logged into Facebook I saw photos of kids with dads holding them and “Happy Father’s Day” messages were splattered everywhere. I broke down crying. Sobbing would be more like it. I can’t describe how it felt to a. realize I tuned out it was Father’s Day and b. realize my relationship with my father, Randy, was good enough now that I needed to tell him Happy Father’s Day but I couldn’t tell Lowell (my step-dad) Father’s Day. People around me were calling their dads telling them hi and all I wanted to do was hear my step-dad’s voice. But, I couldn’t.

Some big awkward text to my biological father came out. I felt embarrassed by what I said and how I said it. I was confused and sad but I didn’t want to hurt him. I kept texting him back apologizing to make sure he didn’t confuse what I had said, or take it the wrong way. I had another breakdown. Sobbing on the edge of the bed. Grief and loss is the most confusing thing I’ve ever had to deal with. While I was crying, he called me. I didn’t answer because I was crying. He left a message (which is still on my phone and I listened to today) gently and sweetly reassuring me that nothing was wrong and that he felt special I even called him at all. I could tell by his voice he was worried about me. Maybe he kept waiting for me to pick the phone up because his message was over 2 minutes long. I didn’t pick it up. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want him to hear me so upset.

I did speak with him the next day and we talked about gardening and plants. He was ecstatic that I was so into gardening and we shared tips on how to keep critters out of the veggies. He asked if I needed anything. He said he was going to send me a care package. He said he loved me and he was so happy to hear from me.

That was the last time we spoke but we’ve emailed and text several times since. I received an email from him 2 days before he died. Two weeks ago I signed an “intent to hire” with a local high school. I was so happy I was finally able to look forward to work and getting my life back in order. I drove home to see my mother for a few days before heading back to Jacksonville to start getting ready for when school starts in August. Two days after I got home I received an email from the school board telling me that “due to a surplus in our county your intent to hire will not be processed as there is no position”. They were sorry if they caused any inconvenience. I shared the bad news with my dad and here’s what he said:

What the Frick?  Damn Carmen,,,what a shame! I know this sucked bad, and hit you hard, but it obviously was not meant to be for you…life sure has a way at times to kick you good and hard when you’re already down…been there, been kicked,but somehow, I always managed to get back up and start kickin “lifes” ass!  You WILL get back up baby!  There IS something out there with your name on it! I‘ll be praying hard for the right thing to happen for you!  Keep an open mind and think outside the norm. You can do anything you set your mind to!  You’ve proven this over and over… I love you baby. I’m here for ya,,,you’ll get through this I know!

…and those will be the last words I’ll ever hear him say.

Dad