You

When they met where the paths split that day, she didn’t see the cloud of darkness

Instead she saw the sunshine beyond

Like a naive child she fell behind, not beside, as you continued on

The illusion of the path took hold of her even though it crumbled at the edges

You reassured her it was the right path

She followed it with you, and as the illusion faded, she mended it behind you

She followed you with the deepest care and understanding

The storm was too great, she lost you

You saw a more convenient path and slid away

You left her alone in the wreckage

Left to pick up the pieces

But as you left, her broken hearted, tear soaked eyes looked up

The sun glistened through the clouds as they parted

The storm was following you

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The path splits

She walks down the deserted, twisted trail going east

Weathered and unkept

Jagged rocks protrude from the soft clay awaiting her clumsy feet

Oleaginous sink holes bubble up along the edges slowly engulfing the path

She trudges on

She will not go back

 

He walks down the wide, winding trail leading west

Lined with man-made railings providing a false sense of security

Present is the illusion of a well maintained, clear path

A cloud of darkness and intensity follows him

He trudges on

He will not go back

 

They meet as the path splits

The River

Impulsivity

A river rushes ferociously through the jagged mountains

Changing its direction storm to storm

Creating and housing life and as it rips away chunks of earth

Vital for survival

Aliens

Shivering in the cold sweat of fear I peeked out from under the blanket engulfment I had made. If the fears I had were real; I really doubt I would be safe under a blanket, but somehow I felt a tiny bit safer. I looked past the eerie shadows to the end of the room to find the old brass doorknob on the closed white door. I built up all the strength and bravery I could, jumped out of bed and made a beeline for the door. I fumbled with the doorknob and opened it as quickly as I could with flashes of terror jolting through every vein in my body.

Finally, I was out of the nightmare fest they called my room. That was only the first step; I had to muster up the strength to ignore the terrifying shapes and possibilities of what could be in the darkness engulfing my entire house and somehow make it to my mother’s room. I took a deep breath; as I did so, I had to unclench my overly tightened jaw.

 

“You can do it Mila… you can get there, you definitely can’t stay here.” I mumbled to myself.

 

Running as fast as my little body could to my mom’s room took an amount of bravery I didn’t even know I had. Tears and sweat ran down into my eyes making my already scary surroundings much worse. Terror is a horrid feeling; my insides were all jumbled and they had forgotten where they were supposed to be. I suddenly understood why in cartoons when they were scared their insides jumped right out of their skin and ran away; mine felt as though they desperately wanted to.

 

“Mom, mom, MOM!” I whispered from piano to forte.

 

“What?” she annoyingly grumbled.

 

“I can’t sleep, I am really afraid of the aliens. They are coming to get me.” I replied.

 

“There are no aliens.” She responded matter of factly.

 

“Can I sleep in here? I really can’t sleep, I am really scared.”

 

“No, go sleep on the couch.” She turned over and began breathing deeply.

 

I guessed I was on my own. I fought the urge to scream and made my way to the dark, spooky living room. I didn’t know how the living room was supposed to help; it was ten times scarier than my bedroom. I looked up at giant spider in the shadows and had to remind myself it was a plant. I wrapped the blanket around my whole body until only my eyes were visible. I tried to calm down and tell myself there was nothing to be afraid of, but I wasn’t very convincing. I don’t know how long I was awake, but when I woke up the fear had subsided and I could see clearly thanks to the glow of the morning sun.

 

***

 

I am not sure if my childhood fears were abnormal or if everyone had fears like mine. Most of my fears stemmed from things I watched. It all started with Ghostbusters. I put off taking baths until I was forced to because I swore the green goo would come through the plumbing. Whatever it was couldn’t be good. I was also terrified that something would jump out at me behind the shower curtain. I still have a hard time going to a bathroom with the curtain closed.

I wasn’t just afraid of the bath; it was the sinks, toilet and pool. All of these were sources of terror for me. Whether it be because Jaws was going to eat me when I was swimming or a grotesque rotting hand would grab me when I used the toilet; I was terrified of it all. I spent much of my childhood trembling under my blankets because of my over-active imagination. I was sometimes aware of how irrational these thoughts were, but I couldn’t control them. Once the adrenaline flew through me, it took over and there was no escaping it.

All of these fears were like apple pie compared to the one that tortured me the most. Why did my dad have to make me watch x-files. I don’t know if I am the only one to keep their childhood fears, but to this day I still have my nighttime panics. I will be curled up in my bed, and I have to pull the covers over my head. If my legs are to close to the edge I have to pull them closer to me. I am a 32-year-old woman and sometimes I am still terrified of Aliens. What is wrong with me? I am not sure I am actually terrified of Aliens; maybe it’s just the familiarity of the feeling. Maybe I am just afraid of feeling terrified and that’s what did it as a child. As an adult I realize being afraid of Aliens to the extent that I am is pretty irrational. Maybe the fear of Aliens is somewhat feasible because there is no proof whether they exist or not. At this point I am not so much afraid of Aliens coming for me, but that recognizable fear keeps me awake. Maybe I just need to face it somehow.

When I was a teenager my friends and I had a séance at my first love’s house. We were convinced there were spirits of his relatives there. We saw weird things like lights go on and off and the TV working on it’s own. I was terrified of ghosts for a long time after that weird night. I faced it when my Grandfather died. I was lying in the spare room and thinking about the tragic yet necessary events of the day. I was sort of staring off into space, just thinking. Then, I saw it, my Grandfather’s smiling, wrinkly face. His giant ears made me giggle because I spent hours staring at them as a kid. They were soft and dangly and he would let me play with them. He looked up at me and I felt completely at peace. It was as if he wanted to say goodbye and let me know he was ok. Not just ok, but his smile stretched from one floppy ear to the other and I knew, he was happy. I was never afraid of ghosts again. Hopefully one day, I can meet an Alien, a nice one.

Misunderstood

 

J

uicy not

round. My mouth

is confused by the

texture, It is rough

and like sandpaper on

the outside, sweet and juicy in

the in the middle. I can relate with

this fruit. Hard, weathered exterior,

soft and warm on the inside. We can

both be misunderstood. We can both

be judged. We are put into boxes

neither of us belong to. Give

us a chance, you may

be surprised.

Pain

Pain

 

I am a thorn in your side

You must face me daily

I make you want to hide

You must face me involuntarily

I am a puzzle no one can solve

I am a force to be reckoned with

With no sign of resolve

You are losing faith

I make your life

Difficult

I test your

Friendships

I test your

Patience

I test your

Spirituality

I test your

Strength

Will I conquer you?

Or

Will you conquer me?

Death

Until recently, I have been living life with the thought of death in the very back of my head. I never really gave it much thought, when I did I would become very anxious. Most of us think it will happen to us when we are old and that we don’t have to worry about it now. Lately the realization that we do not last forever has been very apparent, almost inescapable.

I lost my best friend of ten years 6 years ago. He was 33, the age Jesus was when died. That was the hardest thing I have experienced in my life. He had been struggling with his alcoholism for a long time. We always talked about trying to be together romantically, but I told him he needed to do some work on himself and remain sober. His alcoholism would have been detrimental to him, to us. Drinking for him was very dangerous, he would have seizures from the withdrawal. He became someone else when he drank. I have seen alcoholism, I grew up with it, but never to this extent. After many attempts to stay sober, he was finally really doing it. He was really working on his life and mending the broken pieces. He lived in Arizona at the time and we spoke nearly every day. We talked about how great he was doing and were planning on him coming back in November so we could finally take our relationship to the next level. He died at the end of August.

I was in class last Wednesday and we were discussing death. We had to write our own obituaries, it was an interesting assignment. I spoke up about how I have been faced with the realization that my body is falling apart and have been contemplating death more lately. I’m not quite sure how to explain this whole emotional process I have been going through. Being forced to deal with all of these things that normally happen to much older people is scary. What is my body going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Is this how I am going to die, my body is just going to fall apart on me? How do I deal with the reality that my body will no longer allow me to fulfill all of my hopes and dreams? What kind of quality of life will I have now? Am I going to be in pain for the rest of it? What am I going to do, and how am I going to survive financially?

I walked out of class feeling rather deflated and I heard my R2D2 text tone go off. I looked down at my phone and received the message that my friend Mike had passed away. He was also 33, way too young. Many people I know suffer greatly with this loss. At the funeral I saw him, the second dead body I have seen my whole life. That body wasn’t Mikey any longer, it looked like him, but I knew then he was gone. The reality really sunk in as I stood there staring at his lifeless body.

Both Mikey and Erik no longer have to suffer, that brings a little bit of comfort I suppose. They were both taken too soon, they had so much more life to live, so much more to give the world. I still haven’t been able to fill the hole that Erik left and now there is a new one. This hole is felt not just by me, but by the entire community we shared.

Lately I am scared to go on Facebook because of all the recent loss in our community and I realize the older I get, the more loss I am going to face. I never thought I would face so much of it in my youth and early adulthood. I envisioned all my loved ones growing old with me, than reality hit. We are fragile, any one of us could go at any moment. We get to choose how we live our lives. Granted we may not be able to choose what happens to our bodies or when we leave this earth, but we can choose how we spend the rest of our days. Life is precious. I have learned through all this that I need to cherish those close to me, and most importantly I need to cherish myself. Give someone a hug today and tell them you love them.

Dear Mikey

I am in a positive psych class and our assignment was to write a thank you letter to someone. I chose Mikey who left us yesterday. It saddens me that he will never read it, but I needed to write it. He was much too young and will be missed more than he knows. Like my best friend Erik that passed away and fought many of the same battles. Both of them gone at 33 which is much too young, but I know neither of them have to fight these battles any longer. If you want to help with his services you can do so here Mikey benefit

Please feel free to share your thanks to Mike and/or stories in the comments below.

Dear Mikey,

It saddens me with a huge heart that you are gone. I want to write you this thank you letter even if I cannot give it to you. I want to thank you for never judging me too harshly even when you were around to see some of the stupid mistakes I made. I want to thank you for being patient with me when you wanted to take our friendship to a different level and I wasn’t ready yet. I want to thank you for always being the sweetest, most caring person when we were together. I want to thank you for trying to cheer me up in times of woe. You really cared deeply for others and were often so selfless and kind. I want to thank you for putting others before yourself at times even if you really needed to take care of your self-first. I want to thank you for showing me what strength really is, and for fighting this tremendous battle that you had to fight. I want to thank you for sharing your music, the honest and talented musician that you were. I want to thank you for making me laugh and cheering me up when I was down. I want to thank you for sharing your passions with me and showing me that kind of passion exists. I will miss you and the world has a void now without your presence. I am going to go watch a horror movie in your honor and will be missing your company.

photo credits: Aaron Thackeray

photo credit: Aaron Thackeray