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.

Love,

Lisa

Funeral

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.

Oscar

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.

The Holidays

I didn’t even know they did this anymore, Poetry Rallies. I haven’t wrote a poem in years. Maybe 2011? Be afraid. Be very afraid. In fact, if you think this is really bad, tell me, please!

Holidays

Back before everyone died;

Mama made turkey breast, boiled then baked.

Stuffing made of sausage and cornbread.

Cranberry sauce fresh from the can.

Discord from Grandma; Grandpa can’t see his plate.

New gifts and wrapping paper on the floor.

A feeling of home I don’t have anymore.

Now I go out to eat.

http://promisingpoetsparkinglot.blogspot.com/2018/12/poets-rally-week-88-christmas.html?m=1

Dead in the Park

stock-photo-tombstone-and-graves-in-an-ancient-church-graveyard-159270173I just finished checking on my friend’s cats while she was away, and as the bus drove over the expansive bridge, the driver and a passenger began remarking on what was going on below.

“Someone must’ve died. The police have been there so long now, ” said the driver. I seen them there three hours ago.” The driver and passenger speculated on the nature of the wreck that I couldn’t see from my vantage point. Alcohol. Drugs.

“I can’t say nothing,”replied the passenger. “I lost my  license going  180 in a 70 mile per hour zone. Just the other day , the cops got a woman going down wrong side of this road.”

The truth of the matter is once you leave the mainland and are on the island, alcoholics are as plentiful as the ocean surrounding the island, or at least it feels like it.

I’m going to see what there is to see, I think. I am obsessed with the morbid in case you might have missed that about me. For the first time in my life, I walked over the bridge instead of riding over it, and it’s scary. It’s about 100 feet to the unfriendly water below, the area where the river meets the sea, swirling and dark. I clung to the railing, afraid I’d be seized by vertigo and fall back into the traffic whizzing by. What a vulture will do to spot death. There it was in the park by the river. An SUV hit a tree by a sharp curve in the road.  The SUV’s  whole front end up to the cab was crushed in by the tree, and the remains of the vehicle were charred from having been on fire. Police were milling around the taped off area,  cop cars and fire trucks blocked the road nearby.

Wow.

Later, I found out it was a mother and her young children. Miraculously, the mother and one child were saved from the fire by a good Samaritan, who ended up being burned badly himself. The youngest child, a 1 year-old, was killed. The district attorney is treating it as a criminal matter.  What a terrible  world where such bad things happen. I hope the baby didn’t suffer, and that the district attorney is merciful.

September Wretched

September 13th will mark the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death. The other day I was at one of the hallowed shrines to my mother and a mecca to my obesity: Wendy’s. We  used to go there at least once a week with an elderly couple I’ve since lost touch with. It’s strange  to go somewhere that hasn’t changed any since 2011 (except for the price ).  Were today September 9th, 2011, my mother would be at home barely able to walk, slowly painfully succumbing to her fate. Had she gone to the hospital the 9th instead of the 12th would she be alive today?

Death and misfortune are everywhere. Saturday I was returning from the beach and happened to look out the window of the bus and a man was having chest compressions started by first responders.  He must have had a heart attack on the way to the beach on Labor Day weekend. How cruel. It’s strange to see someone dying when you already experience foreboding in September. September: the death of summer, the death of unconditional love when my mother died,  September 11th anniversary, my estrangement from the rest of my family, and the end of my friendship with my gay lying friend.

Even when the sun is shining, the world seems dark. I may have gained my independence September 24, 2015 when I moved into my own apartment for the first time, but I am still bound to what the world outside thinks of me. There are very few people you can truly trust when the world thinks you’re dense. I’m tired of my many failures. My mind is drowning in my inability to be what everyone wants me to be, even with what I want me to be. 

I wonder when it will be my turn with the CPR. Hamburgers and red meat are my drug of choice. I don’t want to die, but 2 for $5.00 Big Macs at McDonald’s are crack to me, and you got to take whatever small pleasures you can in this life. God, what do they put in that special sauce?