New Year, Same Old

How can I feel in any way hopeful for a new year when I’m shredded to pieces a few hours before midnight. The night previous I went with my friend to the emergency room and marinated for 8 hours in God only knows what kind of pathogens during a pandemic. I foolishly believed this alone would give me a pass for whatever near future transgressions I would commit. I was wrong.

The nurse practitioner suggested something was elevated by 300 points, which could indicate congestive heart failure, but people have had readings in the hundreds of thousands. “Follow up with your primary,” said the NP, who was eager to go off duty. My friend wanted a covid test and the RN was pissed, so it seemed she used just a bit more vigor than necessary, as though she wished to hit my friend’s medulla. Some tech practically dug into her veins and didn’t get blood at first. It was a farce, the whole thing. And it didn’t help that my friend’s sunshine disposition was showing itself.

There was an old man with dementia who continuously made noises and she said in a jesting voice ( but not really) “can’t they give him something?”

The intake area was filled with all sorts of people young and old passing through. A psych patient kept asking everyone who passed by if they were a nurse. Some tersely said no, others completely ignored her. One tech took her purse and put it at the nurse station because she was afraid someone would steal her meds. When she finally got a nurse she begged to be put somewhere else because she was afraid to be out here with all these people. My own paranoia whipped up and I was afraid she was scared of me. She had changed seats, but during Covid that’s understandable. Finally someone came for her and they ushered her along as she told them she had talked suicide 30 times. “Tell the nurse,” the escort said.

Another fellow with an injured arm who could barely walk or hablarse íngles almost got served by a cop, but since he couldn’t understand, 5-0 went in search of his family.

A woman, likely a hoarder, had brought a bunch of stuff with her, and an EMT helped her carry it to a sitting area. The last I saw of her, she had commandeered a wheelchair and was arranging everything on it. I surreptitiously snapped a photo.

But to my sin. I asked my friend the next day if she got the results of the covid test. They were negative. We had hoped it would be positive, because the elevated fluid or whatever it is can be brought on by infection.

I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for the evening, and I was afraid if I didn’t ask her if she wanted to do something for New Years Eve that she’d be upset. So I asked her if she wanted to do something. I didn’t hear back, so I ordered a pizza.

And then it happened. As though I lit kerosene. ” The proper question would’ve been, how are you?”

The conversation followed a similar trajectory to the other times she’s been mad over me not doing something right. I lack empathy. That I’m missing a chip upstairs. Wait until I’m sick and it won’t be pretty.

I try to apologize, that I thought she only felt bad if she exerted herself. I wish I could convey how upset I was by what she was saying. I kept wishing I was dead intermingled with rage. I risked my health to be with her. Not many would. She knows I’m pretty sure my mom got the pneumonia that killed her in a hospital waiting room.

There were reminders of death as we waited. Two code Sepsis rang out, a protocol not started until almost a year after my mom’s death. I suppose Oscar probably heard his Code Sepsis over the intercom. We also heard two people code blue.

I’ve always hoped I’d be the first to go since I’m huge and not needed much. I don’t want to be alone again. Everyone leaves one way or another.

Ten Years Later

It was 10 years ago today that my mother died. I only had one purpose in life and that was being her daughter. That morning I lost the only person who actually needed me. From that day on, I switched to survival mode. Ten years without a family and the knowledge that I only exist to take up space. It is what it is.

Everyone leaves or dies, or both. This year, the cousin who let me know I was disowned after Mom’s death, died. He lived to be almost 80. Did his conscience ever get to him? I’ll never know because I’m too much of a coward to contact his sister. I don’t want to be rejected again.

Also, this year, the last person who loved me unconditionally, died. Died in an accident with a drunk driver. I feel so guilty.

I can’t believe I’ve made it 10 years and am relatively independent. My life may have little meaning, but I’m still alive. I keep expecting worse things to happen, but I’ve always felt I was on the precipice of fate. One step forward and I could plummet.

Will I catch covid and die in a similar way to my mother? Will I step in front of a bus or will I just collapse one backday? Would anyone notice or care?

My friend is mad again because I didn’t notice a text. I sometimes wonder if she would miss me if I died or if she’d just find someone else. One thing I’ve learned is never to expect the same amount of compassion you give, and in one way or another, everyone leaves in the end.

The holy rollers at my primary school used to say that God strikes down useless people ( more or less) and that God only gives a few chances. It must not be true because I’m still breathing, useless or not. My mediocrity and lack of intelligence or beauty notwithstanding.

Two Deaths

The First

From time to time, I google my second cousin Charles. Charles, my maternal grandmother’s sister’s son. Charles, who grew up next door to my mom. Charles, who let me know ever so tactfully, that I had no more family when my mother died. There was his obituary. He lived to a reasonable 79 and died sometime in March. I don’t know how he died, but dead he is. I’m ambivalent. Was he the bad guy in this story, or was my mom, and Charles did what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances?

My mom had died that morning. That afternoon I found the old phone book with his number written in it by my long gone grandmother. I called and got his wife, who was really kind, and she got Charles. I swear, he must’ve been rehearsing for the day I’d call, that my mom was already some dead stranger in his mind. I told him how my mom died of sepsis and that could I have the number of his sister, Diane, who I knew a bit better than him. His voice was sickeningly sweet, patronizing, as though he were talking to a dim child. It went something like, “Ohhh” when I told him of her death, and said equally saccharine, that Diane had gotten remarried and he didn’t know her new number. It might have been true, but he acted as though he had no clue about my mother or me either. I couldn’t accept that I had been disowned, so I tried calling again the next day just in case he really was ignorant of who I was. Same saccharine tone, but no sorry for your loss. I kept hoping he’d tell Diane, that he’d remember he was a “good Christian” and that I was family.

I look back on that time of my life, and I still grow anxious, wondering how I managed to survive, my mom in the hospital morgue and I facing the loss of our home. All I know is, there must be a God, but I’m still ever vigilant that my luck might run out any day now, and that I will lose everything.

Here is the possible vindication of Charles. Straight out of high school, at the age of 17, my mom got the hell out of that tiny mountain community, trained to be a registered nurse, and joined the air force. She came back, , but she didn’t feel like she belonged there. We visited as long as my grandparents lived there, and we saw family who visited as long as my grandparents were alive. But the moment my grandparents were both gone, my mom didn’t keep in touch with the rest of the family. Out of sight, out of mind was my mother’s mindset. I remember vividly at various times asking my mom to call relatives, so that we weren’t totally alone.

We ended up selling the house we had lived in with our grandparents after they died. We couldn’t afford the upkeep. Mom didn’t bother to tell them where we lived now, but Diane searched for us. She found out I was on disability for “my nerves.” I didn’t want to go into my full mental health issues. We were told to keep in touch. Mom didn’t and I was too shy.

So you see, my mom asked for it, and after she died, they gave it to her through me. Maybe it was deserved, but someone once asked me would I have done that to a mentally ill family member. Honestly, no I would not.

Second Death

I’m scrolling through Facebook and suddenly I see my first grade teacher, with ‘Remembering’ over her photo. She’s dead, but not naturally. She was driving one Sunday night and a young drunk guy hit her head on. She died at the scene. I still can’t fathom it. No one is saying whether she died instantly or lingered a short while. I unfortunately have a wild imagination, something she could have attested to when I was a little girl. I pray she didn’t know what happened.

I’m struck with massive amounts of guilt. Guilt that I tried to limit our interactions because she would beg me to come stay with her. She had wanted to adopt me when I was little and she still wanted me some 35 years or so later. I was such an unremarkable, ugly little girl that the principal and previous teacher wrote me off as too dumb to learn to read. It was probably my lack of luster, funny way of walking, and withdrawn way that made her determined to teach me and love me. My own mother couldn’t even understand why she liked me so much, and was afraid she was going to kidnap me. Mom thought maybe she couldn’t have children. That was definitely not the case, because she went on to have six children! Yet after all these years, she still saw me as her favorite student ever. Me of all people. She wanted to come see me in February , while her brother was recovering from a covid related amputation. I don’t know what happened. Did she not come? Did she sense I was more than a bit concerned that I’d catch covid? I wish she understood why I didn’t want to move far away and become beholden on someone ever again. I cuss, while she marked curses out of books. She believed liberalism was against God and that one should turn from it. I would have been miserable hiding my thoughts all the time. I hope she forgives me wherever she is now. Still, I yearn to be as kind and giving as her. She was loved by virtually everyone who knew her. She was probably the last person on earth who loved me unconditionally.

My Neighbor is Dead

We probably said about 100 words to each other the whole 8 years I lived here, but I am sad about it. He died Sunday at the hospital. One of his daughters told me. She said he kept to himself.

The fact that it’s September, that he died in the same hospital as my mother, and that they’re mourning his loss while trying to remove things from his apartment, all reminds me. Things in general feel pretty hopeless these days.

I saw him as I saw all my neighbors: as someone who could get me in trouble or talk about me. When someone new moves in, I will be convinced  that this new neighbor will be the one out for me.  You’d think I was psychotic as paranoid as I am. 

His life followed a trajectory I hope for. Only be removed from home when I’m dying. No nursing home. No muss, no fuss.

He did me a solid when I first moved in. I locked myself and my Dondee out of our apartment.  I was scared, too shy to knock anywhere, so I sat in the hallway with my cat debating what to do. Fortunately, my neighbor came home then, and had a maintenance guy on speed dial. I think he always made friends with maintenance, all 500 of them who passed through.

I knew he had been in the air force and a retired cop from his Facebook, that he liked soul. Most of what I knew about him, though, I knew from overhearing over the year. He was probably Domino’s’ most loyal customer, ordering every other day sometimes. I. Knew he wasn’t very mobile and had a lot of pain, was due for another stint in his heart. He didn’t like sounds in the hallway and hated solicitors. He kept up with friends a lot on the phone.

I’m going to miss him in a strange way.

I Made It Through

I didn’t cry for my mom, but it hit me hard about Oscar suddenly.

My friend, his girlfriend, talks about him almost every day. Sometimes she even shows me pictures, but yesterday’s photo did me in. He’s in front of his family’s Christmas tree, proudly holding up a Guns ‘n Roses t-shirt he just opened. My brain then seemed to just then fully understand how dead he actually is.

I’m ruminating about a dear online friend who I offended and he never got over. If only I could take it back.

I’m worried that there are bedbugs. It may be fleas. I’m itchy everywhere. I honestly couldn’t take it if that ever happens again.

Dear Mom,

In a few minutes, it’ll be 9 years since you’ve been gone. I sometimes wish the cold I had, had taken the same course as it did with you: pneumonia, sepsis, death. But what can you do?

If only you had seen the things that happened since you flew the coop. I can honestly say it’s better I stay away from people. They smell the vulnerability. It’s happened a couple times now. They act like you’re the best thing ever, and then…

I’m happy for my independence, but I don’t feel the same kind of safe as I did with you. I feel like everything and everyone is transient now. I’m afraid of so many things. It’s almost a given that I’m going to die sooner or later alone. Not many, if any, care about me to the degree I care about them. It is what it is.

I’m still so sleepy. Going back to bed. I will try to be a better person this year, but not right now. Now I sleep.




Who knew when I met you in November, you’d be dead in May. Or that you’d die like my mother. That was a slap in the face.

It’s the morning of your funeral and I’m at the Walgreen’s by my house. I grab boxes of soda and candy for your family, a plastic plant, and a scented candle for your mother. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I want to do something with limited time and resources.

My friend, your girlfriend, picks me up at the store and we go to the mortuary. It hasn’t changed much over the years, with the notable exception that the old undertaker who opens the door, wears a mask.

There’s twelve of us in the sanctuary. Your parents, uncle, a cousin, and siblings. Your ex-girlfriend is here too, all the way from Florida. Everyone is spread out, socially distanced, and wearing obligatory masks. You’re up front in a rented coffin, dressed in your familiar flannel jacket. That’s all that’s familiar. You’re bloated up to your father’s size. I wouldn’t have recognized you had we met in the street.

Apparently, during a pandemic, the funeral home runs low on Catholic Spanish speaking priests. Instead, there’s a budget pentecostal woman with a man to punctuate her loud preaching. I understand the sermon in words and short phrases here and there. Something about you being in the arms of Jesus. Your mother weeps and asks people to come up. We are last. My friend tells your corpse that I was willing to give you part of my liver. I feel tears coming. It is what it is. I can never save anybody.

On the way to your house, we stop by Family Dollar to get some prayer candles. The cashier tells us they’re very useful to have in hurricanes. Your mother has a giant shrine at the family home, flowers and candles everywhere. There’s you as a smiling baby, as a grinning teen, and finally a photo of you at 33. No one would know you just had a couple months to live or the secret habit that led you to become septic.


If God were merciful,

it would be me in your stead.

Your GED study book lays

unopened on your bed.

Your mother prays over

your body,

Your beautiful mind and soul

part from earth evermore.

Thirty-four, you won’t grow old;

It’s not fair, but life seldom is.

Comforting you gave me some

purpose, now I’m empty.

You were so close to turning your

life around from the cliff that

you strayed too close.

Say hello to my mother for me.

Still Convinced I’m Dying

Yay! I’m sure now that kidney infection, or whatever it is, wasn’t killed by 5 days on Macrobid. I found blood the other day, but since then, the color has gone back to normal. I know I still have something going on though. I can no longer deny that the ache in my abdomen is my kidneys. If I see blood again this weekend, I’m going back to the urgent care. If not, I will try to force myself to go to my doctor next week. I’m supposed to go to get a yearly form signed anyway, so two for one if I can hold out for the form to get here. I’ll ask for a blood and urine panel.

If I am dying, I’d really just prefer to drop dead suddenly, thanks. I shouldn’t care as much as I do, because my cats will be cared for, and there’s no one left that can’t live without me. Apparently, however, the idea of having death knocking terrifies me. Even though my life is only marginally fulfilling, I’m not ready to give it up yet. It’s funny what little things make me happy: I found a Discord chat that actually finds me funny ( or maybe they’re too nice to tell me I’m annoying). I think I’m the only one there with an IQ less than 130, but every community needs a village idiot. I feel if I made someone somewhere laugh, I did a small service to humanity, and maybe I shouldn’t have been aborted after all.

My best friend has ESP. She hasn’t told me yet that she thinks I’ m dying. I just keep thinking back to the guy who saw my mom’s death 2 weeks before it happened, and who told me if I didn’t change my ways, I’d be dead by 48. I’ve dropped about 50 lbs since then, but I’m still fat, and my major joy in life is overeating. If I changed, he said I’d make it to 78. Maybe at 42 this is the beginning of my end.

Fear of a New Decade

Last decade was the worst decade of my life. Highlights in case you don’t feel like flipping through almost 10 years of mediocre writing:

My mom died.

I realized friends, relatives, humanity in general will disappear or downright disown you in your hour of need.

I went into a nursing home for 2 and a half months just because there was nowhere else to go.

I almost got evicted.

I got bed bugs.

Instead of thinking that things will look up for the new decade, I’m certain this will be worse.

I’m scared that I’m dying. I recently had a kidney infection, the second in three months. The hematuria cleared up with antibiotics, but I’m still having stomach and back pain. I keep thinking I am in kidney failure. I am having weird bumps and itching. I used to worry it was bed bugs who had hid out without showing themselves in over two years. Now I think it’s just organ failure. I’m too scared to go to the doctor. If I start pissing blood again, I’ll go. I’ll probably die of sepsis one day just like my mother before me. Yay.

I keep thinking I’m going to lose my apartment, I will have to rely on my best friend, and will never have my own own home again. My friend will grow to hate me, throw me out, and I’ll wind up in a nursing home or on the streets. My dreams are filled with me losing my home. Sometimes, the dreams are that my mom just died again and I wake up in amazement that it’s 9 years later and I’m OK.

Well, thanks for letting me unburden myself. I could go on  about how I’m never going to be loved and my life will be remembered as meaningless if I do  fall dead, but I’ve had enough fun for one day.