Rite II

Heather

[Let us Pray]

I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
even though he die.
And everyone who has life,
and has committed himself to me in faith,
shall not die for ever.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes his own master when he dies.
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,
and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord’s possession.

Happy from now on
are those who die in the Lord!
So it is, says the Spirit,
for they rest from their labors.

[We have come hear to celebrate the life of a friend, a mother, a wife, and one of two people I would ever call “Mom”]

The Lord be with you.
You: And also with you.
Let us pray

[SILENCE]

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day
our sister Heather. We thank you for giving her to us, his
family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on
our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion,
console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate
of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue
our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with
those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33

The steadfast love of YHWH never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “YHWH is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” YHWH is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the YHWH. (ESV)

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. (ESV)

1 John 3:1-2

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV)

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
You: Glory to you, Lord Christ.

John 11:21-27

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (ESV)

John 14:1-6

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV)

The Gospel of the Lord
You: Praise to you, Lord Christ.

In the assurance of eternal life given at Baptism, let us
proclaim our faith and say,

[The Apostle’s Creed]

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant(s) with your saints,
You: where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.

You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind;
and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we
return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying,
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All of us go down
to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia.

You: Give rest, O Christ, to your servant(s) with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your
servant Heather. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of
your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your
own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy,
into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the
glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

For our sister Heather, let us pray to our Lord Jesus
Christ who said, “I am Resurrection and I am Life.”

Lord, you consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; draw
near to us who mourn for Heather, and dry the tears of those who
weep.
You: Hear us, Lord.

You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend; comfort us in
our sorrow.
You: Hear us, Lord.

You raised the dead to life; give to our sister eternal
life.
You: Hear us, Lord.

You promised paradise to the thief who repented; bring our
sister to the joys of heaven.
You: Hear us, Lord.

Our sister was washed in Baptism and anointed
with the Holy Spirit; give her fellowship with all your saints.
You: Hear us, Lord.

She was nourished with your Body and Blood; grant her a
place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.
You: Hear us, Lord.

Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our
sister; let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life our
hope.

[SILENCE]

Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to you our sister
Heather, who was reborn by water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism.
Grant that her death may recall to us your victory over death,
and be an occasion for us to renew our trust in your Father’s
love. Give us, we pray, the faith to follow where you have led
the way; and where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy
Spirit, to the ages of ages. Amen.

Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me;
I will never turn away anyone who believes in me.

He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead
will also give new life to our mortal bodies
through his indwelling Spirit.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.

You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

The Lord be with you.
You: And also with you.
Let us pray.

Together:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen

Merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the
Resurrection and the Life: Raise us, we humbly pray, from
the death of sin to the life of righteousness; that when we
depart this life we may rest in him, and at the resurrection
receive that blessing which your well-beloved Son shall then
pronounce: “Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the
kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”
Grant this, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our
Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.

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Forbearance in Lieu of Acceptance

NoControl

In some situations there are no good options. There are no solutions readily available to move you forward in any sort of meaningful way and so you must sit with the ramifications of the decisions that have been made. In this situation I had no other choice but to go through everything with the help of some friends and having to grit my teeth through the pain as I tried with all my might to move on with my life all because of the decision of someone else.

Having absolutely no control over what happens to you in a situation like this is by its very nature one of the most painful things I have ever had to sit and accept in my life. You aren’t the only one who has left me in the dust to accept my fate with no real explanation. Experience, in this case, doesn’t make things any easier to understand or to try and get past. In fact, knowing what it feels like only made things hurt even more.

I’ve come to understand that people are going to do what they feel like, regardless of how it affects anyone else because it’s much easier to look out for number one than any other number you might think of. It’s a lot easier to feed someone nothing but lies than to tell the truth because the truth hurts both parties involved.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a process. This pain, this heartache only disappears with time and there is no set paradigm or set of steps that will tell me when I have finally passed through the blaze and the downpour to the other side of all of this. I will continue to see you in my dreams where my subconscious tells me you still have control over a good portion of my thought process and all of it is an aching melancholy that I can’t quite escape yet.

Understanding now is the fact that I have not cleansed myself of you completely and that affects me in too many ways. I don’t like it because you don’t deserve the space in my heart and in my head that you still occupy because you obviously didn’t care enough about that in the first place. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here outlining my experiences in hopes of some sort of catharsis.

I’m not looking for a reaction.
I’m just looking for a peace of mind
Something that will make it all stop.

Knowing what I know, I will likely weave my way in and out of everything I’ve already described more than once, over and again. Eventually, it will go away like you did and I’ll be free and unafraid to feel again. But for now, I’ll continue to live my life without a destination in hopes that I’ll truly accept what happened and it will disappear from my thoughts like a dream upon waking.

My hope is to be healed.
And you can’t help me.

Willing Occupant of a Deadfall

cave

“Whatever you do, don’t hide away in your room. You will just continue to sink.”

Sound advice after I broke the news. I actually thought I had escaped the darkness that has been known to pervade my consciousness, to pull me down rung by rung until I feel I cannot climb back up out of the shadows and into the light again. And how I sank. For someone who has struggled his whole life to understand what it meant to actually love and be loved, who refused to use the the three word phrase for years, I surely felt that I had those feelings emanating from the pores in my skin. That is, until the floor was cut out from under me.

Your fingertips ripped holes
in my ventricles
And the fire in my chest
was over run by water
and extinguished
with the hiss of an inhale
that accompanies unexpected pain
air passing backwards between the teeth
And the umbra ran tendrils
from my heart to my head
and rooted me to the ground
I was infected.

I did my best to outrun it and it worked for a while. I spent a lot of time with friends. In fact, one asked me to come over and hang out for the first time in months the day after it all happened. I wasn’t dark then. I was still denying the fact that it hurt and it hurt like white hot steel between my shoulder blades, scraping bone with every simple movement. But eventually, the night caught up with me and I sank.

You don’t know what it’s like to mourn the loss of someone still living.
You don’t know what it’s like when a part of you dies
because you gave it to someone else
and they squandered it
stepped on it
My heart carved up by the heel of a stiletto shoe
Don’t worry about me
you never did

Nothing mattered. I slept until it was time to go to work when I did go to work. Most days I was able to muster up the energy to drag myself from my cave in the basement and get dressed enough to get to work. I tried to inundate my brain with as much senseless media as possible as a means to forget but nothing happened. And so I sank. The ceiling fan is a welcome distraction when it’s spinning and I’ve lost the motivation to do anything on my days off. I wrote to exorcise the ghosts. I fictionalized portions so it would seem less real and I realized I was only feeding the beast by reliving everything I thought I had gotten over.

I couldn’t write anymore. That’s how down I was. And when I did it was a subject I was so sick of that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Every line about someone I don’t want to write about anymore.

And it didn’t help to stumble upon pictures of you and him. Just when I thought I had gotten over it, there you were. And my heart would stop beating all over again.

From here to asystole.

The Deal with the Devil in the Details

DeadManHand

The hardest part of all of this after the initial barrage of psychological baggage hitting me right in the face was ridding myself of the addiction to you. I won’t lie to myself. I was addicted to you. As far away as texts to another state and as close as a kiss on the back of the neck, in those rare occasions I felt like I had gotten something right. And I loved that feeling that it kicked in my instinct to protect myself from losing it because that was a situation I was far too familiar with and far too high-strung to handle again.

The sick and sad part was I think you knew that. And you didn’t have the courage to own up to the distance you created and I was left to swallow my panic.

Oh, well. I’ve stitched myself up before.
If you crack open my ribs
You can still see
where they stuck the needle
weaving in and out.
Out then in.
They stuck the needle in
and closed the hole
where your fingers
dug themselves in.

And after all of that. All of it I struggled. I didn’t want to talk to you because I didn’t have anything of importance to say but I told myself it would be worth it to get off my chest. Yeah, what if I just unloaded on you or sent you at text telling you how horrible a person you were and that I wished you nothing but the worst.. But there was a searing ambivalence to those feelings because I am not, by nature, violent or aggressive. I do not pick fights anymore because there’s no point. I argued with myself that I would feel justified and vindicated when, in reality, I knew that losing my temper would only make things worse. I was feeling forgotten, deleted. A gap in the text. And so, I mustered up the courage to send you one word. One.

la·cu·na
noun \lə-ˈkü-nə, -ˈkyü-\
: a gap or blank space in something : a missing part

I struggled for days as to whether or not I should even send it. Was it worth the effort and did you deserve any sort of connection with me after you ripped us apart. We had a year and a half and it felt like such a waste to throw that away completely. Maybe we could coexist, maybe we could get along, despite the knife in my back. I tumbled these thoughts in my head over and over until I mustered up the courage to send it and received no immediate response. I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping I’d heal quicker if you left me alone.

Do I contact her
Do I not
Do I put myself back out there
and risk the damage I might incur?
You said it might hurt
it might be painful
You’re damn right.
I dealt with the devil in a card game
went all in,
showed my hand
and lost it all
And in the vibrant pain of total loss
I questioned whether or not to ante up again
Do I dare
Do I dare not
Don’t know
Damned if I do.
Damned if I don’t.

Light the Match, Ignite the Torch, Burn it Down, Walk Away.

HouseFire

I carried around a burning coal in my chest for longer than I choose to remember as my memory currently will not allow me to recall the time. My face showed scorn with a curled up lip and furrowed brows when I thought about what you’d done, what you were doing, what I didn’t do to deserve this. I didn’t deserve this, I don’t deserve this, I will never deserve to be treated like this. And I carried around that open flame with me to work, to church, and to my friends who were kind enough to listen to me when I related the newest revelations I had gleaned from the fire burning the layers of paper wrapped around this issue.

I was the burning man
with burning steps
scorching the earth
wherever I roamed
You lit the fire
You ignited the flame
But I had to carry the torch
inside me, not you
And there was no one to put it out but me
No one but me.

I ran over and over in my head scenes of violence where I put my fist through the face of the guy you ran away with. I hold him responsible too, even though it was mostly your fault. And it was your fault, not mine. No matter how angry I got I could never hit a woman and so he would pay the price and you would have to suffer as he suffered my wrath, the consequences be damned. I wanted to rip your whole world to shreds as you had mine. I wanted you to suffer the way I did and sometimes still do when my memory or subconscious allows you to creep up on me. The visions I had of you and him, having come true, were replaced with scenes of violence and vengeance that kept me awake some nights; the adrenaline from the thought became too much for me to control and would not allow me to rest.

I gave you everything and more. I told you everything and more. I don’t trust easy and I don’t take abandonment well and you knew that, you knew that better than anyone and you went ahead and kicked me to the curb without having the common fucking courage to say it to my face or at least over the phone. Distance was your shield and you hid behind it and fired an arrow with a note and a flame attached to it and you incinerated my world, you coward. And rather than own up to the garbage you backed into a corner and attacked like a wounded animal when I was the wounded one. After all that, I hoped everything in you hurt. I wanted to know you were unhappy and know you deserved it.

I wanted to set fire to the pictures I saw of you and him. Not out of jealousy but out of sheer malice and rage. I wanted to crumple up the photographs of your faces and have you feel it in your skulls. I wanted to take a lighter to it and watch the smiles curl slowly into a black nothing because that’s what you deserved.

Your whole world in flames; I wanted to see your world burn to the ground around you.

The River Flows North to the Delta

RiverStones

I may have lied about sleeping that night but only marginally. After curling up on the floor most pathetically and keening like a dog that’d been kicked too many times, bawling harder than I thought possible, I crawled into bed having nothing left and drifted off for a few hours. Knowing that I had church in the morning and the ache that pervaded my body, I was ambivalent about waking up.

But I slept like a stone
and the rest washed over me like a river
eroding the dirt
and my eyes woke to the morning
and my eyes woke to the morning
and my eyes woke to the mourning
of something that had been murdered
only hours before
And I pulled myself from the river
weightless and smiling
as if I was not made of stone
floating
I was taken by the currents

And one by one I told those that mattered the story of what you’d said to me and the decisions you’d made. The trade up you made, you see. And, while I said it with a smile on my face because it felt like a weight had been lifted, the sorrow in the eyes of the people who knew me and knew you was difficult to swallow. But I did my best to keep grinning because part of me was relieved. I didn’t have to worry about the stress of something I saw play out a million times in my head over the span of a few weeks that you could have cared less about. I should have seen it coming long before it did. But I guess I should have felt like I was in good company because nobody else understood it either.

Shame on me for being blinded by the light of the feelings I had for you. I never believed you’d do something like that.

I sat down on the couch
with the wonderful friend
one that I often refer to as “my other mom”
and I felt bulletproof
because the grief wasn’t there
But I wanted the story known
Because I know how I am with pain
Ignore it until it becomes too much to handle
The pain.
And as the story unfurled from my mouth
there was something I didn’t expect
There were tears in her eyes
Drops of saline, careening down her cheeks
creating reflections of the tears
I was somehow finding in mine.
Somehow, it hurt more than I’d registered
It was not okay.
Nothing was fine.

Prolegomenon

Hands-BW-Photo

Hands
we both have hands
No.
We both had hands
when pressed palm to palm
my fingers extended over yours
and we marveled at the extension,
the explosion of heartbeats
against sternums
and felt against the pulse of our wrists
close enough to make contact,
live wires arcing current
to the pressure of pressed lips
to the grazing of bony hips.
Yeah.
We had hands.
Until we interlaced fingers
as you departed for your last flight.
Exchanging, “I’ll miss you”‘s
as our fingers slipped
from palm to tip
and unlocking.

I still wonder sometimes
if I had told you how I felt
if I could have avoided all this
Now I’m fairly certain
I don’t want to know the answer.

Our arms reached distances
for a short time.
And for a while still,
I could still feel your touch against mine
Until we locked our fingers this time,
intertwined like romance.
The distance in your eyes
pointed towards the ground
and with a quick twitch
a flick of the wrists
You upended my palms,
offered up my wrists to the sky
and pushed away.
In my agony, I climbed to my tip toes
and begged the word, “mercy”
But there was none
as you refused to look at me
while I screamed over and over
in submission
Wondering why you’d hurt me.
(I still ask the question to this day)

Then, quickly, you let go
turned
walked away
And in the wake I was left
with the task of assembling the pieces
and nursing my over-torqued shoulders and wrists.
That’s when I looked at my hands
and across each thumb and finger
was written in scorched-skin black,
a word written on the underside
of each digit
they read, left to right (starting with the thumb):
DENIAL
ANGER
BARGAINING
DEPRESSION
ACCEPTANCE
ACCEPTANCE
DEPRESSION
BARGAINING
ANGER
DENIAL

I studied these intently for a moment
trying to find their purpose or meaning
and why they had been
burned so deeply into my skin.
And then it hit me like a fist to a wall
that I was staring at the countdown clock
of my life after you
Where my journey would start and hopefully end
as I tried to cleanse myself
of the aching hole you left in my chest
when you unlaced your hands from mine
and immediately locked them into the hands
of someone else.

This is the beginning of the open hands
that desired to become fists
to grip the pen and write the lines
about who I don’t want to write about
anymore.
to raise themselves in victory
over the damage you’d done.

[This is only the beginning.]